The Astros are interested in adding free agent Mike Napoli to their roster according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Napoli is mostly a designated hitter at this point in his career, but also proved to be valuable to Cleveland last year at first base during their trip to the World Series.
The 35-year-old Napoli had the most plate appearances of his career last season, logging 645. While his strikeout rate peaked as well at just over 30 percent, the right-handed slugger still managed to hit 13 percent better than the league average by wRC+ with an on-base percentage of .335 and a slugging of .465.
Among hitters in whom #Astros have shown interest, per sources: Mike Napoli. Team prefers LHH, but Nap could be 1B/DH and offer leadership.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 20, 2016
The Astros have been among the most interesting teams so far this offseason, having just completed a free agent deal for Josh Reddick and authoring a trade with the Yankees for Brian McCann. Reddick will likely factor in as an every day outfielder. However, McCann would likely command some designated hitting time as well during off days from behind the plate.
Earlier in the offseason, the Astros claimed that they were looking for impact bats and were willing to increase payroll to do so. While they certainly haven’t disappointed, back then the rumors were swirling around signing Edwin Encarnacion or trading for Miguel Cabrera. While the trade for McCann certainly didn’t negate that, the interest in Napoli might. Especially considering the latest report that Encarnacion turned down a four-year offer from the Blue Jays worth $80 million. Furthermore, Napoli isn’t attached to a compensatory draft pick, while Encarnacion is.
With plenty of options remaining, neither Napoli’s nor Encarnacion’s markets have settled quite yet. However, with the pace that this offseason is moving—and the looming expiration of the CBA—expecting teams like the Astros to keep the tempo up is likely prudent.