The Washington Nationals may have a need for a back-up first baseman. If they do, they should consider veteran Mike Napoli.
In 2017, the Washington Nationals had arguably the best back-up first baseman in the league in Adam Lind. Lind has a mutual option for 2018, and the Nats would undoubtedly want him back, but he may opt to test free agency.
As of right now, Lind is stuck behind Ryan Zimmerman at first base, so he would be limited to a back-up role with the Nats. However, with the way he performed in 2017, he would most likely receive some offers to be a starting first baseman or designated hitter in 2018.
If Lind declines his option, the Nats will need to acquire another back-up first baseman. Zimmerman has a history of missing lots of time due to injuries, so the back-up must be capable of filling in for a significant amount of time if needed.
This is where Mike Napoli comes into play. The veteran first baseman recently had his option declined by the Texas Rangers, so he is now a free agent. If Lind leaves, he could be a solid option for the Nats.
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Despite being 35 years old, Napoli is still productive on both sides of the ball. In 2017, he hit 29 homers for the Rangers. In 2016, he had an even more productive season, hitting 34 homers and driving in 101 runs.
According to FanGraphs, Napoli had a 1.1 UZR in 2017, which is considered above average. While he is not great defensively, he is certainly adequate, especially in a back-up role.
Napoli also has something that the Nats lack and desperately desire: postseason experience and success. He has played in 66 career postseason games, including winning the World Series in 2013. For a team that consistently fails to advance past the National League Division Series, Napoli could be extremely beneficial.
Finally, Napoli provides a terrific veteran presence in the clubhouse. The Nats are likely going to be without Jayson Werth in 2018, and he served as a veteran leader for seven seasons. His presence will undoubtedly be missed, but Napoli could make up for it a bit.
A 162-game season is grueling and spending so much time with the same people can be difficult at times, so having a veteran presence, such as Napoli, never hurts.
The Nats also need a veteran presence now more than ever. They recently dismissed manager Dusty Baker, so there will be lots of turnover with the coaching staff. One way to ease the transition is to have veterans who can assist in leading the team. As far as free agents go, there are not any better options than Napoli to do this.
While the Nats would love to have Lind back in 2018, it is not likely he returns. If he departs, the Nats should take a long, hard look at Napoli. He is certainly past his prime, at 35 years old, but he can still be productive in a reserve role. Between another early postseason exit and recently dismissing Dusty Baker, the Nats are currently in a state of turmoil, but signing Napoli could work wonders in getting them back on track.