Report: Rangers, Marlins Interested in Mike Napoli, Although Slugger Remains Priority for Red Sox

Mike NapoliThe Rangers’ acquisition of Prince Fielder isn’t stopping them from considering adding another first baseman.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Rangers are interested in free-agent slugger Mike Napoli. Texas’ vision, according to Rosenthal, is to use Napoli as a first baseman/DH, thus creating a middle of the order comprised of him, Fielder and third baseman Adrian Beltre.

Mitch Moreland, who is currently penciled into the Rangers’ DH role, would likely be out of the mix if Napoli signed in Texas. A deal is hardly a foregone conclusion, though, as the Red Sox have reportedly made Napoli a priority this offseason.

Napoli has stated multiple times that he would love to continue playing in Boston, where he enjoyed plenty of success this past season en route to a World Series title. The Red Sox could certainly use his bat, especially since there aren’t many other first base options available. Boston could roll with a Daniel Nava/Mike Carp platoon or pursue a guy like Corey Hart, but neither scenario is as enticing as the idea of Napoli continuing to provide right-handed protection for David Ortiz.

Napoli hit .259 with 23 homers and 92 RBIs in 2013 after signing a one-year deal with the Red Sox last offseason. He was also solid defensively in his first season as a full-time first baseman, and his hip condition didn’t flare up at all throughout the year. The 32-year-old is the best first baseman — and perhaps the biggest power threat — available on the open market, and as such, he’s looking for a multiyear deal after turning down Boston’s one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer at the beginning of free agency.

The Rangers don’t figure to be the Red Sox’ only competition in Boston’s quest to re-sign Napoli. Rosenthal reports that the Marlins, who already signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year, $21 million deal, are also in the mix for Napoli’s services.

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Update: Napoli talks reportedly reach “critical stage” >>

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