The Indians are bringing back Mike Napoli on a minor-league deal with a major-league spring training invite, according to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Per FanRag’s Jon Heyman, the contract will guarantee $1.75 million if Napoli reaches the majors and comes with $3.25 million in incentives.
Napoli, 36, returns to the Indians after a year in Texas that served as his third stint with the Rangers. The slugger made his impact felt for the AL Champion Indians in 2016, hitting .239/.335/.465 with 34 homers and 101 RBI while being an essential clubhouse leader for the Tribe.
Napoli, like many other free agents this winter, dealt with a stagnant market all winter, though he was linked to the Mets and Twins at various points. He underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right hand after the season but is expected to be fully ready for Opening Day next month.
Napoli will serve as a depth option behind first baseman Yonder Alonso and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion in Cleveland, potentially giving the Indians a power bat off the bench if he makes the club. He’s the second veteran from the 2016 to return in recent weeks, joining outfielder Rajai Davis.
Napoli hit just .193/.285/.428 for the Rangers last year, though he did have 29 homers in 124 games. For his career, he owns a .246/.346/.475 line in 12 seasons with the Angels (2006-10), Rangers (2011-12, 2015, 2017), Red Sox (2013-15) and Indians (2016).
Napoli is the latest free-agent signing for an Indians club that has been busy in recent weeks. In addition to Davis, the club also has added relievers Carlos Torres and Matt Belisle and catcher Ryan Hanigan on minor-league deals.