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.
Source: Pirates have interest in free agent 1B Mike Napoli, who has a good relationship with Clint Hurdle. @adamdberry first on this
— Travis Sawchik (@Travis_Sawchik) December 10, 2015