In his Sunday column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo mentions that free agent first baseman Mike Napoli rose his free agent stock by performing well in the second half and playing a little left field. He also mentions that he could go back to catching, though not on a full-time (and ostensibly not even a part-time) basis.
Napoli hasn’t caught since 2012 with the Rangers, when he spent 72 games at catcher. Then the Red Sox signed him to a one-year, $5 million deal and used the veteran as a full-time first baseman.
Napoli, 34, hit .224/.324/.410 with 18 home runs and 50 RBI in 469 plate appearances overall this past season. He struggled with the Red Sox, who shipped him to the Rangers in August. He hit .295/.396/.513 in 91 PA with his new team, helping them win the AL West.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets bench coach Bob Geren has interviewed with the Dodgers for their open managerial position. Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register also reports that Darin Erstad interviewed with the Dodgers late last week. Gabe Kapler and Dave Roberts are considered the favorites at the moment.
Geren, 54, managed the Athletics over five seasons between 2007-11, leading them to an overall 334-376 record. He was let go 63 games into the 2011 season. Since 2012, Geren has been with the Mets as a third base coach and a bench coach. Among the four candidates mentioned, Geren is the only one with prior managing experience at the major league level.
The Dodgers are also considering Kirk Gibson, Dave Martinez, Bud Black as potential successors to Don Mattingly, now the Marlins’ skipper.
The West squad used a trio of two-run home runs to power past the East team in the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game on Saturday night. Gary Sanchez (Yankees) drilled a two-run shot off of Kyle Freeland (Rockies) in the fourth inning, Austin Meadows (Pirates) hit a two-run jack in the sixth off of Adam Ravenelle (Tigers), and Alex Blandino (Reds) went yard with a man aboard off of Corey Black (Cubs) in the eighth.
Also of note for the West, White Sox outfielder Adam Engel reached base four times on two hits and two walks. He displayed his speed in the fifth inning, reaching on an infield single to the shortstop. He stole second base, advanced to third base on a passed ball, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ramon Torres.
Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar, serving as the West’s DH, had two hits and two walks. Profar missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing labrum surgery in February.
Lucas Sims (Braves) started for the West and allowed two runs on an inside-the-park home run by Austin Dean (Marlins). Sean Manaea started for the East and struck out four and walked one over two scoreless, hitless innings.
Sanchez was awarded the Fall Stars Game MVP Award. Along with his two-run home run in a 1-for-3 effort, he threw out two runners on the bases.
In Saturday’s AFL Fall Star Game, Marlins outfielder Austin Dean provided some excitement, hitting an inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the second inning against West starter Lucas Sims. Rowdy Tellez led off the inning with a double to the opposite field, and with one out, Sims hit a line drive to right field that got past a diving Derek Fisher.
Fisher’s throw came in high and Dean kept running. A relay throw reached catcher Gary Sanchez in time, but he couldn’t hang on to the ball as Dean slid in for a two-run homer.
Dean, 22, hit .268/.318/.366 at Single-A Jupiter. He’s the Marlins’ #6 prospect, according to MLB.com. He doesn’t hit for much power, but has a good ability to make contact. He struck out only 76 times in 578 plate appearances this past season.
Looking to fill the void in the outfield left by free agent Yoenis Cespedes (who is expected to sign elsewhere), the Mets have their eye on a handful of free agent outfielders including Denard Span Gerardo Parra, and Dexter Fowler, as Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.
Despite the Mets reaching the World Series, the club isn’t expected to expand their payroll very much beyond last year’s $103 million Opening Day figure.
Span battled back and hip injuries this past season and underwent surgery for a torn labrum in September, but he’s expected to be more or less on time for the start of spring training. He hit .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases in 275 plate appearances for the Nationals in 2015.
Parra posted an .886 OPS in 100 games with the Brewers before he was shipped to the Orioles at the trade deadline. He finished the season on a sour note, compiling a paltry .625 OPS in 55 games in Baltimore.
Fowler has only once in his career posted an OPS above .800 across eight seasons in the majors and he grades out as a subpar defender. However, he provides speed and a good eye at the plate.
Carig notes that, internally, the Mets prefer Span, Parra, and Fowler over other free agents such as Colby Rasmus and Will Venable. The Mets aren’t expected to pursue elite free agent outfield talents Jason Heyward and Justin Upton.