ARLINGTON (AP) – Catcher Mike Napoli and the Texas Rangers have finalized a $9.4 million, one-year contract, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing.
After spending his first five major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Napoli set career highs last season by hitting .320 with 30 homers and 75 RBIs in 113 games while the Rangers won their second consecutive American League pennant. He started 57 games at catcher, 27 at first base and 18 as the designated hitter.
The Rangers announced the deal on Sunday.
Napoli started 102 total games at catcher, first base, and designated hitter, becoming the club’s regular catcher at the end of the season and in the postseason.
He is getting a raise from $5.8 million last season. He had asked for $11.5 million, and the Rangers had offered $8.3 million.
The deal came four days before Napoli’s scheduled arbitration hearing. It also wrapped up a week in which the Rangers also completed deals with slugging outfielder Nelson Cruz and shortstop Elvis Andrus to avoid hearings.
Napoli was traded twice in five days last winter, first going from the Angels to Toronto before the Blue Jays traded him to Texas for reliever Frank Francisco. Then he had a breakout season, becoming the Rangers’ primary catcher the second half of the season.
After missing three weeks with a strained left oblique and returning to the lineup July 4, Napoli hit .378 with 20 homers and 50 RBIs over the last 67 regular-season games. He hit .328 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 17 postseason games, including 10 RBIs in the World Series.
The 30-year-old Napoli was Texas’ last remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible player.
Napoli is a .264 career hitter with 122 homers and 324 RBIs in 619 games.
Cruz and Andrus got multiyear deals that took them through their last arbitration-eligible seasons, Cruz through 2013 and Andrus through 2014.
By finishing contracts with all three players, the Rangers again avoid having to go through an arbitration hearing. Their last was 2000, when they won their case against Lee Stevens.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)