Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports hears that the Twins are still seriously pursuing free agent first baseman Mike Napoli. The two sides don’t appear close to a deal at the moment, however, and Napoli has also attracted interest from both the Mets and Rays over the past month. Still, Heyman adds, the slugger would bring a much-needed boost to the club’s lineup and his connection to both president Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine could give them a welcome advantage in negotiations.
Napoli, 36, is coming off of one of the worst performances of his career. He took a one-year contract with the Rangers in 2017 and slashed a meager .193/.285/.428 in 485 plate appearances, despite an impressive 29 home runs and .713 OPS. Outside of his power surge, part of his overall decline in value can be attributed to injuries, from a lower back strain to a stress reaction in his right leg. In December, it was revealed that the veteran infielder had played the entire season with a torn ligament in his right hand, which was later corrected through surgery.
Warts and all, Napoli still looks like a good fit for the Twins, who could utilize him at DH or stash him behind Joe Mauer at first base. Earlier this week, both MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press said talks between the two weren’t “as intense as [was] being reported,” and Berardino pointed out that pitching remains the top priority for the club as they look toward the 2018 season.