The Seattle Mariners flew in Mike Napoli to discuss his playing with Seattle. Texas is still interested in resigning him, and the Boston Red Sox would like to add him to their lineup. In past years I would have bet on the Red Sox, but they are going downhill. And Seattle made a point of telling Napoli, a right-handed hitter, about the fences being moved in, most notably in his power alley.
But if Seattle signed Napoli, what kind of ripple effect does that have with the lineup and roster?
He plays catcher, first base, and DH. That was Jesus Montero’s role for the Mariners. So now you have two players rotating the same positions. Montero could be the number one catcher, but is a defensive liability there. And the Mariners have Mike Zunino waiting in the wings. He tore up the minor leagues in 2012 and had a strong Arizona Fall League season. Seattle is sure to start him in Tacoma, as they like to hold back top prospects until June, thus gaining control of a player for an additional year. They did this with Dustin Ackley in 2011.
If Zunino has a great spring, and the Mariners decide to keep him on the big club, then Napoli would play a lot of first base and DH. Then what happens to Justin Smoak and Montero?
It is possible that Montero and Smoak could be traded, but that would depend on Napoli signing with Seattle. If he does sign, then I would look for a trade, packaging Montero and some young pitchers for Billy Butler or Alex Gordon. Butler could DH, Naploi at first, Zunino as catcher. Or Gordon in left, Zunino catching, and Napoli first and DH.
It is a definite improvement over 2012. Napoli, Butler, or Gordon could add some punch to the lineup and the Mariners need a big punch. Time to shake things up. Mediocrity is not acceptable. Will Napoli sign with the M’s and set things in motion? Can Trader Jack pull the trigger on some moves? Stay tuned.