According to Mr. A. J. Morris of Lone Star Ball, Ken Rosenthal is tweeting that the Rangers are close to trading Frank Francisco to Toronto for Mike Napoli. MLB Trade Rumors has the same thing.
This is kind of exciting. Mike Napoli has a career weighted On Base Average of .357 for his career, or 20% above average when adjusted for park (118 weighted Runs Created Plus). His .340 last season was the lowest of his career, but so was his .279 BABIP. That was still good enough for 6th among qualifying AL first basemen, and Napoli can potentially catch.
If the Rangers determine Napoli can play behind the plate regularly, that is a huge, huge upgrade to the lineup over what we were expecting from Yorvit Torrealba et. al. Even if he can't, he provides depth, an option at first base should Mitch Moreland not pan out, and potentially an excellent platoon partner.â†µ
Either way, it's a plus, potentially a very significant plus. Over his career, Napoli has come in at better than 2.5 Wins Above Replacement (per Fangraphs) each of the past three seasons. Torrealba was only close to that for the first time last season, and that was in the NL. The defensive difference probably offsets that some, but the Rangers with Napoli starting probably look a win or two better than expected this morning. Losing Frank Francisco hurts, obviously (and if that isn't obvious, you have been underrating Frank Francisco), but the Rangers have built up some depth in the bullpen to withstand it. The trade off for the increased offense, as well as the two years of team control, with Napoli is worth it.â†µ
If this mind-boggling Angels trade ends up with the most valuable piece going to Texas in the end, it just makes it that much better.