According to Adam Berry on MLB.com, the Pittsburgh Pirates have expressed interest in free agent first baseman Mike Napoli. Berry also quotes Neal Huntington as saying the Pirates are “open to just about anything and everything” when looking into first baseman at this point.

With Michael Morse as their best option now at first base, the Pirates would like to add someone either to start ahead of him, or to complement him, which would likely mean a lefty bat. We have heard rumors about Napoli and the Pirates in the past as well, so it’s no surprise that his name has popped up again, even though he is a right-handed hitter.

The 34-year-old Napoli split the season between the Red Sox and Rangers, hitting a combined .224/.324/.410 in 133 games. He had a .789 OPS in 2014 and that was down from an .842 OPS the previous season. His defense is average at best over at first base, although that would be a huge improvement over the season Pedro Alvarez had there for the Pirates this year.

Napoli just finished a contract that paid him $16M a year over the last two seasons, so with his steadily declining offense at an offensive-minded position, he would need to accept a large pay cut at this point. The Pirates would be looking for a one-year deal due to Josh Bell being close to Major League ready in AAA. A legitimate first baseman would give Bell more time to work on his defense and polish off his offense. If Napoli regains some of his old form, he could allow the Pirates to let Bell get some more time in before his big league debut.

UPDATE Wednesday 8:37 PM: Travis Sawchik also says that the Pirates are interested in Napoli.

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74 COMMENTS

  1. I like Napoli because his power will not be hurt by the long fences in Left field- defense average at best doesn’t fit his UZR rating over there which was one of the best in 13 and 14. If you can get him on a 1-8 or anything less, or a second year even with a option, I’m good with that

  2. No on Napoli. With Walker and Pedro gone, we are down to one left handed bat, Polanco. Not exactly a lineup built for PNC Park, or to take advantage of the mostly right handed pitchers in the league. Sign Kazmir, and send Morton to Texas for Moreland. At least for the moment, this team is very poorly constructed.

  3. How much are you willing to invest in 1B place holders? I think Napoli would be better than Morse, but what about those necrotic hips, the Pirates didn’t have much success with Hart and his knees lacking cartilage.

  4. Morse would see to be a better option. I wonder if the would consider playing Morse at 3rd until Kang is back? He came up as a SS. Otherwise he and Napoli are similar players

  5. Bucs are talking to Rangers about A 1Bman. Now they’re talking to Napoli. Rangers want to move Fielder to make space. Morse, Morton and Diaz for Fielder who is owed $90M through 2020 but he’s only 31. M & M washes about $10M and the Rangers kick in another $10M. Rangers want Morton, Diaz and salary relief. Morse replaces Napoli.

    • He’s a full time DH now man. Even if the money was do able, the defense would erase his offensive value. So would taking him out of Arlington, which is one the smallest parks my ass has been in.

  6. I’d like to see NH pry Robbie Ray (preferred) or Chase Anderson (plan B, less prospect cost) away from Arizona, now that they have 7 legitimate* SPs. Lord knows the D-Backs could use a couple of upper level bats to restock the farm system.

    I’d also sign Matt Thornton – to a 2 year deal if need be – to be the LOOGY.

    *depending on what you think of Archie Bradley.

  7. Put all of your money together, BN, and sign Chris Davis for 5 years at $25 Mil per year;
    listen to offers for Cutch–to fill some holes–and put Marte in CF, since you have more young OF prospects than anything else.

    I realize that’s too bold for Neal (and BN), but we were looking up at the Cards and Cubs before free agency began and that talent gap between us and them just got a lot bigger.

    Or Mr. Nutting, if you are not willing to spend to compete, just sell the team.

    • Mark Cuban still wants a baseball team. Trading Cutch would suck, I don’t think you could do that Bell could go back to playing Right Field and let Polanco move to Left. But Chris Davis is a good move we need a lefty bat, to hit clean up, and 40 HR guy. Hopefully after this season ROOT Sports ponies up some money when the TV deal is up.

        • Are you sure of that? I read the post the NMR posted a couple of days ago, and it said the Pirate deal with Root was for 20 years which means I will probably not be around when it is time to renew.

          • 10 years. The Pens signed for 20. However, I do believe the Root deal ends in 2019, not 2018. But, Bucs could negotiate a new pact a year earlier like the Cards did, and have some idea of future revenue, allowing them to manipulate contracts accordingly.

        • How rich the owner is- does not change the size of the market. No millionaire wants to lose money regardless of how deep his pockets are

    • What do you not understand? NO ONE will get paid more than Andrew McCutcheon on this team except Francisco Liriano annually and hopefully Gerrit Cole but who knows if that’s realistic. Why do you think Neil Walker didn’t get his extension? Bc they had it in their plans to depart w him a hell of a lot earlier than last season and they are not gonna give him more than their star player which he could get. It ruins the small market precedent they created plus you act like they can just open those pockets like it’s nothing.

  8. Doesn’t sound like a very good idea to me. Player on the downside. Mitch Moreland sounds more promising. to me. Options are not that great. Seems like Pirates have had major hole at 1b since KY, and before that, since Pops. Too bad El Toro did not work out at the position!!!

  9. If the Bucs believe Morse can play vs LHP, then there is no need for a platoon… he hits both equally well. So either he’s the starter or he’s the backup, but this platoon talk makes little sense.

    Have the Pirates said they don’t want Morse to face righties? Or that they don’t trust him to play every day? Because I’m having a hard time understanding why they’d want to waste money on a LH bat to complement Morse, especially if Bell is due up mid season.

        • That’s *absolutely* the point. We’re not playing video games here. Risk associated with injury and poor performance has to be taken into account, and Morse unquestionably has a shit load of it.

          Who plays when Morse pulls up lame with his yearly injury? Who plays when it takes Morse three months to “get in the groove”?

      • 2014, 132 games and a 134 wRC+. The only reason he was at a mere 0.9 fWAR is because they put him in left field, and he’s pretty terrible at that.

        • This splits are pretty even historically, he isn’t really a platoon player. When he hits he is fine against both sides, when he struggles, he struggles against all

  10. There’s almost no way Walker is moving to first, even if people want it to happen. It doesn’t help him at all and he’d be learning a new position. Remember, he’s a FA next year. I wonder if kicking the tires on Freeman isn’t a good idea. The Braves are full in rebuild mode. But if that happened, we’d have to either trade Bell or an OF.
    Moreneau or Lind are my preferred deals. Moreland would be good. Napoli is just OK.

  11. Is there anyway way we can get Adam Lind from the Brewers? I know he’s signed through 2016, but I think he’d be a great stopgap.

  12. If we are going to consider the likes of Napoli, Reynolds, Rodriguez, Moreland for first base, moving Walker there would be the better move – you don’t have to give up anyone and he will produce better than anyone on this list. in time, I bet he would become at least an average first baseman defensively. He could be platooned with Morse (gulp) initially, in the hope that the Pirates will eventually decide to give Bell a shot.

  13. I’m beginning to think that maybe keeping Alvarez to play first base may have been the right move, if the alternative is some combination of Morse, Moreland, Napoli, Reynolds, Rodriguez playing first base in 2016. How about this radical idea – see if Bell can handle at least a platoon situation, before bringing on more salary in the form of aging, low production and upside veterans like this illustrious group? Then, maybe you could afford to sign a Kazmir….

  14. He hit a lot better in Texas. Just not sure how the power would translate at PNC. I’d have to see the price.

      • I think he was just referring to the first basemen the Pirates supposedly have interest in – stellar performers like Napoli, Reynolds, Rodriguez, Moreland, and the like….

      • His metrics and injury history are not great, plus I don’t believe it’s realistic. No way they would go the 18 million or so to sign him. It’s getting foolish, Zobrist at his price at 39?? smh. It’s almost like they are signing guys and paying them stupid sums later on because they know they can afford the useless money on the books. But we break the system giving Bell 5 million. The system needs to change, but I don’t think the owners should pocket more money either.

  15. Not good enough! We need a real first baseman who can hit for power and play the position well! I like Walker at first, Josh at second, Kang at third!

  16. At the deadline, I thought it was a good idea, but now…I dont know. Maybe…I’m still a bit higher on somebody like Lee.

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