The Cleveland Indians have reached an agreement on a minor league deal with free agent first baseman Mike Napoli, pending a physical. If it seems weird that the Indians would sign Napoli, a 36-year-old first baseman who is more likely a designated hitter than anything, there’s a wholesome-as-heck reason for it.
While speaking to the media after the signing, manager Terry Francona explained the unique situation:
It’s a situation where a player that is universally respected in our organization, and in our opinion, shouldn’t be in that camp in Bradenton, Fla. He wanted a chance to be in a major-league camp. There’s a decent chance that we’re going to get him ready to go to another team and help beat us.
Saying that, we all felt he deserved it. He’s such a pro, so special to us. Certainly, if there’s an injury (he could help us). I’m just laying it out as honest as I can. It’s a very unique situation, but he’s a very unique person.
Napoli is one of dozens of free agents still without a home for the 2018 season, and the Indians went out of their way to give him one on a public stage. That’s just awesome.
Similar to Rajai Davis signing last week, Napoli being back in an Indians uniform — at least for a couple weeks — will bring back a lot of good memories. Napoli was a tremendous presence in the 2016 Tribe clubhouse even going so far as to bridge cultural divides, according to some reports. He also delayed Game 3 season of the World Series because he had to poop, so what I’m saying is I will forever look back fondly with his time on the team and it’s cool that he’s back to help out some younger guys for a couple weeks.