Napoli in his Angels uniform, since he never wore one for the Jays
First off I really have to congratulate Alex Antholpoulous for pulling off the trade of popular outfielder Vernon Wells. The outfielder had too many question marks to justify the $86 million remaining on his deal.
From the looks of it, he also managed to ship away Wells without paying for any of his remaining salary, though I've heard $5 million might have accompanied Wells to Los Angeles.
Neither Juan Rivera nor Mike Napoli are exactly All-Star caliber players, but that's not as important as the salary dump that took place. But now Napoli has been sent packing back to America to the Rangers for reliever Frank Francisco.
Toronto has top prospect J.P. Arenciba as the everyday catcher, so Napoli wasn't expected to see much time behind the plate. The Jays also have Jose Molina, who typically plays more than your average backup anyway. Napoli was not acquired for his catching abilities.
He is, however, a 1B/DH who can hit bombs, lots of them. Napoli had 26 bombs in only 453 at bats. His batting average was very unspectacular at .238, but he had two straight .270 seasons before that. And with such inconsistent playing time, it's hard to accurately judge his batting average.
Toronto's bullpen took a hit over the offseason, but AA has done a decent job putting the pieces back together. AA signed Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel and Chad Cordero before the Francisco addition. I question how necessary Francisco truly was.
Was Napoli a Good Trade
Edwin Encarnacion figures to be getting the bulk of the DH at-bats. Encarnacion can also play first and third base, though the Jays are trying to find alternative solutions at the hot corner.
Was Napoli a salary dump? Probably, as he was expected to make around $7 million through arbitration. Encarncion doesn't have as much upside as Napoli, but he'd be possibly $5 million less.
The Jays need to stop dumping salary. They are not a poor team. The Jays are owned by Rogers Communications, which means they have money to spend. They already pulled off one huge salary dump. I don't see why they needed another.
Did Napoli make the Blue Jays a contender? No, not really. Would he help them win games? Yes, more than Encarnacion. The Jays may not be looking to contend in 2011, but they are looking to put fans in the seats. Having a DH who can actually be productive is a good way to do that.