Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates view Mike Napoli as the perfect fit at first base, although you shouldn’t be penciling him into the lineup anytime soon.
The pirates view mike Napoli as the perfect fit at first base but it doesn't appear they will lay out the cash needed to sign him.
— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 3, 2013
Napoli has been one of the biggest names on the market this off-season. He is being pursued by his former team, the Red Sox, along with the Marlins, Mariners, and probably a lot of other teams. The Red Sox are some of the biggest spenders in the game, and by all reports the Mariners seem desperate to spend some money for a quick fix. I’ve seen predictions ranging from $17-20 M per year, which makes sense when you consider who is bidding on him.
He would be the perfect fit at first base. He’s got impressive power, and could slide into the middle of the lineup, which is a need for the Pirates. He also surprisingly put up some strong defensive numbers at first base, with a 13.3 UZR/150 in 2013 and a career 4.9 UZR/150 in over 2100 innings.
Cafardo’s comments about money is more than just a usual “Nutting is cheap” comment. The Pirates are currently sitting with a projected $66 M payroll on Opening Day. They usually add about $8-10 M per year during the season. If Napoli did cost $17-20 M per year, then you’re looking at an $83-86 M payroll on Opening Day and about $90-95 M at the end of the year. The Pirates spent around $75 M in 2013, which means that Napoli alone would take up their entire increase in salary. That means they wouldn’t have room in the budget for another pitcher or any other position.
If Napoli’s price came down, he would be a perfect fit. However, I don’t really see that happening, and I don’t see the Pirates being able to afford him and other players at the estimated prices that are being thrown around.