According to Rob Biertempfel, the Pittsburgh Pirates have looked into acquiring Red Sox’ first baseman Mike Napoli and outfielder Shane Victorino. Napoli is hitting .205/.301/.372, with 11 homers in 87 games this season. He is in the last year of his contract, getting paid $16M, so the Red Sox would likely have to pick up part of the remaining money. The 33-year-old Napoli had a .789 OPS last year and an .835 career OPS.
Victorino is also in the last year of his deal, which is worth $13M this season. In 33 games, he is hitting .245/.324/.298, with one homer and five stolen bases. The 34-year-old Victorino only played 30 games last year. He has missed time this year with a left calf strain and a right hamstring strain. He had a hamstring injury last year, as well as a back injury. As recently as 2013, he won a Gold Glove, which was the fourth of his career. No word if the Pirates were looking at them separately or as a package deal. More on this shortly.
UPDATE 8:18 PM: Thoughts from Tim Williams…
Napoli and Victorino are both similar stories. They’re both having horrible seasons, both are making a ton of money, and both would just be rentals with the hope that they bounced back to previous success.
Napoli has an 0.1 WAR this year and is making $16 M. He’d be making about $6 M the final two months of the deal. He has averaged about 2.8 WAR the previous three years. He’s had a few hot stretches this year, but they’ve all been in small samples, and the struggles have outweighed the few hot streaks. Even if a team was taking a risk that he would bounce back to his pre-2015 form, and paid for that risk, he’d have no trade value unless Boston picked up salary. At a 1.0 WAR the final two months, he’d be worth a Grade C hitting prospect.
Victorino is the same deal. He’s got an 0.1 WAR and is due $4.7 M the remainder of the year. He also had an 0.1 WAR last year, although he averaged almost 5.0 WAR the previous three years. Once again, if you’re paying for a 1.0 WAR the final two months, you wouldn’t be giving up much due to the salary. The price would be a Grade C hitter. If Boston picked up salary, they might be able to get a Grade C pitcher, but nothing significant.
Both players would be salary dumps for Boston, and gambles for any team adding them, with the upside being that they rebound to their old success. In the Pirates’ case, they’d be taking on salary, and wouldn’t be giving up prospects, which would be good for their short- and long-term goals.
Napoli might be worth the risk, since the Pirates have a need for help at first base. However, he doesn’t really offer any guarantees over their current option in Pedro Alvarez. I don’t think Victorino makes as much sense. If they’re going to take a risk on someone bouncing back, then they’d be better off sticking with Gregory Polanco, who has done well this month, and has more long-term value if he works out.
The Pirates have the payroll to add someone like Napoli. However, there might be better options available to them, especially since they have prospects that they could deal without really hurting themselves in the long-term.