Jays deal Napoli to Rangers

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

TORONTO - The Mike Napoli era in Blue Jays history ended abruptly Tuesday, with so many things left unsaid.

Things like, “Hello.”

After some 72 hours as part of the Blue Jays family, Napoli was flipped to the Texas Rangers for reliever Frankie Francisco and cash, believed to be under $1 million.

Francisco will join a spirited competition for the closer role in a bullpen that has been virtually rebuilt from the ground up this winter. Octavio Dotel, John Rauch and Jason Frasor all have closing experience but Francisco might be the best of the bunch. He saved 25 games two years ago for the Rangers.

“He’s a guy we’ve tried to get multiple times,” said GM Alex Anthopoulos. “He’s a power arm with great stuff, a strike-thrower with closer experience and he’s only 31 years old.”

Shipping out Napoli should let J.P. Arencibia breathe a little easier heading to spring training knowing he’s been more or less ordained as the No. 1 catcher ahead of Jose Molina.

“We believe in J.P.,” said Anthopoulos. “He’s not going to be handed anything; he’ll have to earn the job but we like his chances.”

Napoli had also been in the first-base mix with Adam Lind but now Lind will have every chance to prove he can handle the job, with Edwin Encarnacion as the fallback position if Lind can’t get the hang of it.

“Long-term, if (Lind) can take the first-base spot, being under our control for the next six years, it really solves a problem for us and opens up the DH spot,” said Anthopoulos.

Francisco, like Frasor, was a free agent who was offered and accepted arbitration. He has asked for $4.8 million US and the Rangers offered $3.5 million. Anthopoulos will try to settle with him before a hearing.

“We are pleased to have so many experienced relievers going into the season,” said Anthopoulos. “The bullpen is an important area, especially with so many young starters. I’ve seen things spiral out of control because of a weak bullpen and having all these guys should be very reassuring to our starters.”


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