For the longest time, Red Sox fans have been waiting for some news of a Mike Napoli trade. Once--and, indeed, forever--one of the heroes of 2013, Napoli's production dipped dramatically in 2014, and has fallen completely off the table in 2015, to the point where his continued presence in Boston's lineup was enough to induce hysterics.
The good news: Napoli has finally picked up. Since the All-Star break, the first baseman is hitting .333/.400/.639, and at long last, the rumors have arrived!
Over at the Globe, Nick Cafardo mentioned some potential landing spots. He also mentioned that he's probably not going to find his way to any of those places:
The Giants were rumored to be a suitor, but general manager Bobby Evans saw no fit with the Red Sox. The Pirates were also seen as a possible destination, but a team official said that as of Wednesday night, he didn't see that as a possibility. The Cardinals are also looking for a first baseman, but they'd prefer a lefthanded hitter, which has them looking at Milwaukee's Adam Lind.
The most optimistic of those three possibilities seemed to be St. Louis. And to some extent, Napoli would make sense there. After all, they...
Confirmed: Indians will acquire STL pitching prospect Rob Kaminsky for OF Brandon Moss.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 30, 2015
Alright, so the Cardinals are off the table. And apparently the Pirates too. The Giants situation is actually pretty interesting in that the idea that there's "no fit" with the Red Sox would imply the Red Sox are actually looking for a return.
To get a return, though, there needs to be value going out, and Mike Napoli doesn't have that. Not even after these last couple weeks. This isn't even the best Napoli has been this year! From May 19 to June 6, Napoli hit .317/.419/.667. And over the next 100 plate appearances, he had an OPS of .462. If the Red Sox might want to push this hot streak to push Napoli's value, teams really don't have much reason to buy into it, much less pay for it.
There is at least some chance that the Red Sox will find a taker for Napoli, but taker really is exactly the right word for it. They'll take Mike Napoli if offered, much like the Angels took Shane Victorino when offered. With no obvious replacement at first base (depending on who you ask), the Red Sox might not be quite so anxious to send him off for nothing, But when push comes to shove, he doesn't really offer anything with his presence. He could hit .500 the rest of the way and do nothing but hurt Boston's draft position. There's just no scenario where the Red Sox really regret letting Napoli leave.
But there's also no real scenario where they get anything back. If there are teams in the market for a first baseman, Napoli is absolutely the last-ditch fallback option once guys like Lind and Moss are off the table. And even if he's the only one left, the Red Sox really don't have any bargaining position. If they don't let Napoli go for peanuts, then they'll just be stuck with all of his remaining salary. It makes no difference to us either way as fans, but no owner would gladly burn even a few hundred thousand dollars just to spite teams coming in with low bids.
No, Mike Napoli may be hot right now, and he may well end up traded, but that doesn't mean there's a market.