Oct 30, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli hits a RBI single against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning during game six of the MLB baseball World Series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Bucs targeting Mike Napoli, but unlikely to make offer


Oct 30, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli hits a RBI single against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning during game six of the MLB baseball World Series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Other than a few minor moves, this offseason has been a particularly quiet one so far for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Eventually that will change, most likely with the addition of a first baseman, perhaps the biggest need on this current Pirates team.

With that in mind I took a look at some first basemen the Pirates could target and one of those guys on that list happened to be free agent Mike Napoli. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Pirates view Napoli as the perfect fit at first base.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Cafardo also notes that it doesn’t appear the Bucs are willing to pay the market price.

Napoli would be a nice fit into the middle of the Pirates lineup.

He is one of the top sluggers on the free agent market, as he leads all qualified free agents in isolated power. He is also one of just 10 players to hit at least 20 home runs in each of the past six seasons.  His power, plus his strong career walk rate of 12 percent led to an impressive .360 OBP this past season.

Based on his OBP and power alone, he is one of the top free agent hitters on the current market.

He has had some injury problems, most notably avascular necrosis (AVN) in both hips, but he was relatively healthy last season as he avoided the disabled list all year. He also strikes out a lot, having fanned in 32.4 percent of his plate appearances this year.

But his power and ability to produce runs would look  nice in a Pirates uniform.

That’s where the problem lays for the Pirates as Napoli is likely to earn a decent chunk of change as a free agent and even though the need is there and the organization apparently likes the fit, the Bucs still won’t be able to open up the checkbook to get a player they covet.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington is going to have to find a way to plug a couple of holes eventually. The free agent market is very thin this year and if he waits too long it may be next to impossible to upgrade at a few key positions.

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