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Red Sox trade Mike Napoli to the Rangers

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The impending free agent and 2013 World Series champion is headed back to Texas to clear a roster space for the Red Sox.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Napoli was placed on waivers by the Red Sox after he wasn't dealt at the trade deadline, and it was only a matter of time before someone inquired on him. It turns out that the Texas Rangers, Napoli's former club, were that team, as according to WEEI's Rob Bradford, the Red Sox have traded their first baseman. The return is unknown at this time, as it's a player to be named, according to Peter Abraham, but the Sox also sent some cash to Texas to help cover Napoli's remaining salary.

The Rangers are not yet out of contention, sitting just 2.5 games back of a wild card spot and 5.5 back in the AL West. While Napoli has been a zero against right-handers this year, he's still crushing lefties as usual, batting .229/.345/.500 against them in 113 plate appearances. He's also been hitting much better of late, at .267/.362/.533 since the All-Star break, and a workable .231/.328/.443 since May 19. He's not the Napoli of old, not at 33 years old and dealing with an increasingly pro-pitcher strike zone, but he can still put a ball in the seats. Especially, as noted, against southpaws.

That will work out just fine for Texas, as Mitch Moreland is their primary first baseman, and his weakness is Napoli's strength. Combined, the two should make for an excellent first baseman, with Moreland's 923 OPS against right-handers (798 for his career) combining with Napoli's 845 mark (904 career) going forward.

As for the Red Sox, they now have a chance to reconfigure their defense. Daniel Nava has been lost on waivers and Allen Craig isn't likely to leave Pawtucket any time soon, which gives Boston a chance to try out some new things defensively. Travis Shaw might end up getting time at first base in Napoli's absence -- he was Napoli's replacement before first pitch on Friday -- or the Sox might move Pablo Sandoval over to first for a bit to give Shaw more time at third.

Maybe Hanley Ramirez will move back to the infield and third base -- a position he's played in 99 games in his career -- so Sandoval and 2015's disappointing defense can head to first. It would be giving something up offensively, even if Panda returns to form at the plate, but if Hanley hits at third and is a better defender there than in left, then maybe there's something to the idea. There is no guarantee that's what happens, mind you, but when you're already playing around with the idea of using this time on 25-year-old Travis Shaw, who has struggled in Triple-A, then you've already committed to some out-there plans.

It's unclear just which scenario the Sox will look at, but they've got just about two months of live ballgames to play around with now, and with Napoli out and no obvious replacement on hand, they'll probably do just that.