The Cleveland Indians made the most recent impact signing of the 2016-2017 baseball free agency period, which opens up interesting options for Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis. Napoli is reportedly very close to a Texas Rangers return, while the Baltimore Orioles are showing plenty of interest in Davis.
The Indians signed Edwin Encarnacion on a three-year, $60 million deal, which is probably far less than what Encarnacion expected to get considering he turned down a four-year, $80 million offer from the Toronto Blue Jays a month earlier. But this doesn’t just leave Napoli without room on the roster: It doesn’t leave the Indians with a whole lot of money to spend, which means the one-year veteran signings they made last season, Napoli & Davis, are probably not going to find a lot of contest from Cleveland as they try to find a new team to play for.
Napoli has a long and successful history with the Rangers, who have something of a problem at first base and DH after Mitch Moreland signed in Boston and Prince Fielder retired due to neck problems he couldn’t recover from. Napoli played in Arlington in 2011 and 2012, helping the Rangers make the World Series and made his only All-Star appearance in 2012. He played 33 games for Texas in 2015 after a trade sending him there from the Red Sox. He has a .277 batting average for the Rangers, hitting 59 home runs in 940 plate appearances and posted a very impressive .929 OPS. His slash numbers with the Indians were far from impressive, but he did hit 34 home runs last season.
Davis, 36, had a productive season with the Indians and will probably fill one of the corner roles in Baltimore if he’s signed, as Adam Jones holds center. Davis almost won the World Series for the Indians with his two-run homer off of Aroldis Chapman, and led the American League with 43 stolen bases. The Orioles need speed and badly in their lineup, which is why they’re willing to overlook Davis’ unremarkable hitting and defense. He batted just .249 last season, his lowest since 2011, but did hit a career-best 12 home runs.