If you don’t remember, the Rockies need a first baseman, and Red Sox first baseman, catcher, and designated hitter Mike Napoli will be one of the most sought after free agents on the market this winter. Napoli, a staple of the bearded bandits, is near the curtain call of a year long audition with a postseason encore. Napoli is on a short list of notable first baseman free agents that includes Milwaukee’s Corey Hart and Seattle’s Kendrys Morales.
Napoli played 139 games in the regular season for the Red Sox, the majority of them at first base. The 31-year-old right-handed hitter has hit over 20 homers every year since 2008 including 23 in 2013, his first and only year in Bean Town, to go along with a .259 average 38 doubles and 92 RBI. In every 162 games Napoli plays he averages 32 bombs, with a .259 average and an on base percentage of .357. On the more boring General Manager side he has a career fielding percentage of .990, which would be second to last on the list of 22 qualified first baseman if he himself was qualified.
The “Toddfather’s” salary last season in his final year had declined all the way to $5 million from his $20 million two years earlier. That money was reallocated to Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, who are making $16 million and $10 million respectively next season. Now that we know that, let’s think about how likely it is for the Rockies to go after a player that not only made $13 million in a contract season, but then played in the World Series and grew one of the better beards on the Red Sox (the jury on beard to contract ratio is still undecided).
Although the Rockies raised their win total by ten games from 2012, the team still only won 45% of their 2013 games. Colorado may not be in full-on rebuilding mode with two perennial All-Stars and a young (except for Jorge De La Rosa) stable of arms. But would the Monforts be willing to fork over $15 million a year for three years of a 31-year-old first baseman whose durability over the years may have been helped by the American League’s Designated Hitter rule?
Right now one would assume that Jordan Pacheco (along with Michael Cuddyer) is the first candidate that could replace #17. In the event of a traffic jam in the Colorado outfield, which is likely, we might see an outfield prospect make the move to compete with Pacheco. Possible candidates for the move could include the Rockies 2009 1st round draft pick Tim Wheeler who, like Pacheco does not hit for power. 2010 First round draft choice Kyle Parker, who hit 23 homers with AA Tulsa last season, might also be in that mix.
One thing for sure is Colorado no longer has the “Toddfather” security blanket and no plan has been announced on how to replace him yet. If the Rockies go after Napoli after the World Series, his performance could greatly raise or cut the asking price. If you don’t believe me search January 13th, 2005 and the contract Carlos Beltran was given after that big audition in the 2004 World Series.