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Cleveland Indians announce Mike Napoli signing, designate Kirby Yates for assignment

And there it is.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians have finally announced the signing of 34-year-old first baseman Mike Napoli today, as first reported by Jordan Bastian. News of the 1-year, $7 million deal first appeared in mid-December, but the Tribe have not formally announced the deal until today. In order to make room for Napoli on the 40-man roster, the Indians have also designated Kirby Yates for assignment.

Napoli is a career catcher/first baseman/designated hitter who will likely take over the everyday first base duties in his year with the Indians. That will allow Carlos Santana, who has struggled at the position over the last several years, to play full-time designated hitter and let his bat shine. The move improves the Indians defensively and could be a boost offensively as well, depending on who would have been the team’s designated hitter had they not signed Napoli.

In 496 plate appearances split between the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers last year, Napoli slashed .224/.324/.410 with 18 home runs. Most of that offensive production came in the second half of the year when he joined the Rangers. Both Steamer and ZiPS projection systems see Napoli having a similar offensive season, with perhaps a bit less power being displayed from the veteran.

Kirby Yates was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash early in the offseason. The right-handed pitcher is someone who I anticipated being a decent reliever for the Tribe in 2015, despite his unrealistically awful earned run average in 2014. He gives up a lot of home runs (30.3% HR/FB rate in 2014), but if he can overcome that he will be another option for the Indians cost-effective bullpen. If he can clear waivers and be placed in Triple-A, that is.