According to Rob Biertempfel, the Pittsburgh Pirates have looked into acquiring Red Sox’ first baseman Mike Napoli and outfielder Shane Victorino. Napoli is hitting .205/.301/.372, with 11 homers in 87 games this season. He is in the last year of his contract, getting paid $16M, so the Red Sox would likely have to pick up part of the remaining money. The 33-year-old Napoli had a .789 OPS last year and an .835 career OPS.

Victorino is also in the last year of his deal, which is worth $13M this season. In 33 games, he is hitting .245/.324/.298, with one homer and five stolen bases. The 34-year-old Victorino only played 30 games last year. He has missed time this year with a left calf strain and a right hamstring strain. He had a hamstring injury last year, as well as a back injury. As recently as 2013, he won a Gold Glove, which was the fourth of his career. No word if the Pirates were looking at them separately or as a package deal. More on this shortly.

UPDATE 8:18 PM: Thoughts from Tim Williams…

Napoli and Victorino are both similar stories. They’re both having horrible seasons, both are making a ton of money, and both would just be rentals with the hope that they bounced back to previous success.

Napoli has an 0.1 WAR this year and is making $16 M. He’d be making about $6 M the final two months of the deal. He has averaged about 2.8 WAR the previous three years. He’s had a few hot stretches this year, but they’ve all been in small samples, and the struggles have outweighed the few hot streaks. Even if a team was taking a risk that he would bounce back to his pre-2015 form, and paid for that risk, he’d have no trade value unless Boston picked up salary. At a 1.0 WAR the final two months, he’d be worth a Grade C hitting prospect.

Victorino is the same deal. He’s got an 0.1 WAR and is due $4.7 M the remainder of the year. He also had an 0.1 WAR last year, although he averaged almost 5.0 WAR the previous three years. Once again, if you’re paying for a 1.0 WAR the final two months, you wouldn’t be giving up much due to the salary. The price would be a Grade C hitter. If Boston picked up salary, they might be able to get a Grade C pitcher, but nothing significant.

Both players would be salary dumps for Boston, and gambles for any team adding them, with the upside being that they rebound to their old success. In the Pirates’ case, they’d be taking on salary, and wouldn’t be giving up prospects, which would be good for their short- and long-term goals.

Napoli might be worth the risk, since the Pirates have a need for help at first base. However, he doesn’t really offer any guarantees over their current option in Pedro Alvarez. I don’t think Victorino makes as much sense. If they’re going to take a risk on someone bouncing back, then they’d be better off sticking with Gregory Polanco, who has done well this month, and has more long-term value if he works out.

The Pirates have the payroll to add someone like Napoli. However, there might be better options available to them, especially since they have prospects that they could deal without really hurting themselves in the long-term.

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76 COMMENTS

  1. Time to go get a real player. Enough shopping the dumpster and hoping. This team is virtually knocking on World Series door and needs to go get some talented, in their prime help. IMHO if they cash a few prospect chips for a big time player no one will ever second guess the move. I love the present/future mentality but heading down the stretch we are in this to win iit. Help us NH. Time to favor the present

  2. I guess I would be OK with adding Napoli – assuming he is available for someone not in the Bucs top 50 or so…

    But I don’t think he makes a big difference – big enough to either 1. Catch the Cards – 2, Ward off late season runs by Cubs and Giants. This is the definition of dumpster diving.

  3. I take a look at what the Mets just pulled off with the Braves (Uribe and Johnson) and thought, the Pirates could have done that and the Braves would have yielded a better return. They have a ton of guys who will be Rule V this year. Wouldn’t it be wise to package some of them up with a decent prospect for someone that might add value. Napoli and Victorino are a reversed direction. They might as well take a chance with bringing up yet someone else from AAA.

    • But they got Uribe (3B) and Johnson who is a utility player…we already have Ramirez for 3B. That deal would not make a ton of sense, honestly, for us. We need a RH 1B bat.

  4. Mike Napoli had a good night again tonight…2-4 with a double a d 2 RBI. Since the break he’s been dynamite…and his bat against lefties would be really nice on the cheap.

  5. Well I think it’s obvious that if they pick up Victorino it is as a 4th outfielder and pinch runner, not as a starting outfielder, so Polanco really has nothing to do with the conversation. For Napoli, it gives you a righty platoon at first, so it is an upgrade. Limited value, but it does add depth which we could use

  6. I think Srod still will come in as a def. replacement for napoli. rodriquez and malancon kind of something good working this year. the prospect will be linked to how much money changes hands. lots of money coming over =better prospect.

  7. With Napoli the defense plays, the bat plays against lefties, postseason experience, and he would be inexpensive in terms of prospects. An Ishikawa/Napoli platoon, though not ideal by any means, is an upgrade

  8. Napoli should be fine as a platoon partner with pedro thus freeing up rodriguez, not sure victorino would prove to be useful. Middle relief remains the chief need for the pirates, but hey if you can pick up a cheap veteran with playoff experience I say go for it.

  9. Napoli, in his worst season, still has an .819 OPS against lefties. That’s a huge upgrade even if he continues to have his worst season. And his defense is solid.

    Victorino… I suppose you could make the same argument, but in his case we have an option I’d like to see play out the year: Polanco. But I guess he wouldn’t be bad as a weak side platoon-mate for Polanco. It would be nice just in case we run into Bumgarner again.

  10. Napoli has a wRC+ of 86 over the past calendar year / 490 PA’s.

    It’s more than a bad first half. But he does still hit LHP and has crazy power.

    • If you are buying Napoli you’re buying him for his ability to play 1B and give you excellent at bats versus lefties. He’s not a full time starting option for sure.

  11. Im sure the Pirates are looking at all kinds of options. These two names just happen to be who some source heard about from the team. Big deal. Its just fodder for people to talk about. That way, if that player happens to get traded for, they seem like geniuses.

  12. If we are going to go dumpster diving for a platoon partner at first base, how about guys like:
    – Mark Canha (Oakland) – plays first base and OF – RH hitter

    – CJ Cron (Angels) – better than a dumpster dive find however
    – Michael Morse (Marlins) – can also play in the OF
    – Darin Ruf (Philadelphia) – can also play in the OF

    • Why not go with Mike Napoli for, basically, free?

      A guy with championship experience, improving numbers after the break, a great bat against lefties, and numbers this year that indicate he’s been unlucky with a .247 BABIP. This is NOT a bad move, if we could pull it off.

      • How is Napoli free? Is Boston just going to send him here with no expectations of a return??

        The questions are:
        – At what cost in player return and salary owed?
        – Are there better alternatives?

        • You’re making this out to be like it would be an awful addition, despite not knowing what it would take to get him and not understanding that Napoli has much more value, especially to a team like this, than you give him credit for.

    • Cron would make sense if Angels took Pedro. Cron is fairly redundant in Anaheim as a RH 1b/DH with Pujols in the lineup. They could use a LH bat.

      But if Bucs can’t deal Pedro, then Napoli makes some sense.

      But not Victorino. At this point he’s more “flyin’ MRI’n” than anything.

      Pass on Morse and Ruf.

  13. Post All-Star Break (only 24 ab’s)…Mike Napoli is hitting .333 with a .968 OPS. He also had a good month of May with a .877 OPS. He has NOT forgotten how to hit or lost the ability to have success.

    Napoli has a career .306 BABIP…this year he has a career worst .247. His luck will turn around…and when it does you’re talking about a hitter with a career OPS in the 800’s!

    Lastly…Fangraphs, despite his low hitting numbers, still gives him a 0.1 WAR on the year…3-times better than Pedro Alvarez.

  14. I really hope the Pirates are not serious about this. I would doubt they are based on the recent history of the current front office. More likely, they are getting this potential deal out there to gain leverage in negotiating with another team.

    • Neither of these would make our team weaker Pat, so why do you care if they are serious or not. The only thing you can do is compare said player to whom is currently manning that position. Is Napoli better than Sean Rod? Yes. Okay then. Is Victorino better then Decker, I’d also say yes. SO it makes the team better, i don’t see what your issue here is

      • Napoli I get, although it’s not ideal. But Victorino… what’s he do when Harrison returns? I’d be fine with SRod in RF vs the few LHP Pirates will face between now and Harrison’s return. When Mercer and Harrison return, if Victorino is here, that’s an entire RH bench. Waste of money, IMO.

        • Napoli does make sense and frees up SRod to play other positions, including RF if you had to. Ishikawa can also play the OF if he had to…

  15. In the past BIG deadline deals have not produced the results teams want…I think another buy-low…extremely low…on Napoli makes a ton of sense. If he bounces back at all, even a little, he becomes valuable to this team. Frees up SRod…gives better bench options and better versatility…a hell of a lot better than Corey Hart. This deal should cost nothing…we are reacting like this bc people want the big splash…Lind…big splashes have often times proved unsuccessful.

    • You are correct Jared. I saw some fact that in the last 25 years or something, only 2 of 27 teams that aquired a top pitcher have won the World Series. The Royals are definitely putting themselves in a nice spot though. Cueto in a smaller home park with the Royals defense should be a great fit.

  16. I don’t understand why this makes sense at all, especially with polanco now hitting, but even before that are these two an upgrade at all?

  17. In regards to the Cueto trade to KC, it did not seem like KC gave up a lot – especially if they don’t re-sign Cueto. I am familiar with Finnegan, who is a good young LH pitcher. I am not as familiar with the other two pitchers – one is 25 (Lamb) and the other 19 and a second round draft pick last year I believe.

    I assume, an equivalent in Pirates prospects may have been Kingham (if he wasn’t hurt), Dickson, and Tarpley?

    • Probably be a little more: Lamb has been ridiculously good in a notoriously friendly Pacific Coast League, Finnegan is undersized but has a ton of upside both as a starter and as a reliever with experience in the ML already, and Reed has had solid but unspectacular numbers at AA.

      Pirates don’t have a comparable to Finnegan as I think Taillon is a not above and Kingham a notch below. Say, everyone is healthy, my guess our comparable offer would have looked something like: Kingham, Moroff, Diaz, and Tarpley. But who knows, Cincinnati may have demanded way more from a team in the NL Central.

      • Tough too because all 3 were lefties…The Pirates definitely do not have a lefty with Finnegan (or even Lamb) upside.

      • Kiley McDaniel said if he were to update his Top 200 that Reed would slot in as a Top 100-150 guy. Seeing as he is regarded as the 3rd best piece, they paid a decent price.

    • The Royals are definitely renting cueto. 11.0 WAR his last 64 starts and only 29. He’s gonna get a big longterm deal.

  18. Recognizable names, big contracts, play perceived positions of need. Feels like the perfect way to placate the vocal Yinzers who insist deadline moves matter substantially and that they need to take on payroll to prove they’re serious. Meanwhile, they’re really not ruffling any feathers or upsetting the apple cart of the team with the 3rd best record in baseball.

  19. Gosh, I hope not…
    First Napoli….Yes, we do need an upgrade at first base or, at a minimum, a RH platoon partner for Alvarez. But Napoli? A .200 hitter in a hitter friendly ballpark. He has always struck out a lot as well – 187 Ks in likely his best year in 2013. I don’t see how he helps us – I’d pass.
    Victorino is even a more curious name for the Pirates to be considering…yes, he is a RH hitting outfielder, but he is 34 and now cannot stay healthy – has played in a combined 60-65 games in 2014 and 2015. I’d pass on him as well.

    • I think people put way too much emphasis on a few months and don’t even look at a guys body of work.

    • he’s just a 4th OF to give depth and experience in a pennant run man, don’t read so much into it.

  20. I get Napoli as the right-handed option/defensive sub at first (he’s been fine against lefties this year, and the glove still plays), but I think Jaff Decker is a better fourth outfielder than Victorino at this point.

    • This year, Napoli is batting .228 against LH pitching (.196 against RH pitching), so I still don’t see value even in a platoon situation…

      • 16% BB rate and .241 ISO, though. 125 wRC+. Batting average really is a poor gauge, it makes Jose Tabata and Ben Revere look good.

        • You can’t put lipstick on a pig…a .228 batting average is bad…and drawing walks is not what the Pirates need at first base – we had that last year with Ike Davis – all he could do was walk and hit singles.

          • Tabata is fine, but when people are saying “why did he get sent down, he was batting .289?” then it’s ignoring that he has a below-average BB rate and no pop.

      • Championship experience…better RH 1B bat than what we’ve got currently and would be cheap. I would like the Napoli addition.

      • with an .819 OPS! This guy is basically just a salary buy…and buying an .819 OPS against lefties would be a HUGE help: Bumgarner, Kershaw, Lester…

      • Napoli has an .840 OPS vs LHP. Pedro is below .450. Also Napoli is hitting very well the past week. Might have a good stretch run in him – but at his worst he is still better vs LHP than Pedro or Rodriguez.

        • And his BABIP this year is abysmal…he’s gotten unlucky to a large extent… a .247 BABIP? For real?!

          • he isn’t making good contact- BABIP is a pointless stat, you have to look at line drive rate or hard hit rate. If he pops up and hits weak grounders 40% of the time then its not bad luck

    • Makes perfect sense…Mike Napoli is a better RH 1B bat than Sean Rodriguez. He’s good defensively and has championship experience…if he gets anywhere at all close to his numbers last year or his career numbers down the stretch he would be an awesome and inexpensive addition.

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