Mike Napoli traded for Frank Francisco

Updated: January 26, 2011, 12:04 PM ET
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

Mike Napoli's stay in Toronto was short-lived.

The Texas Rangers acquired the catcher-first baseman from the Blue Jays in exchange for reliever Frank Francisco and cash considerations on Tuesday.

Napoli, 29, had been acquired by Toronto along with outfielder Juan Rivera from the Angels for Vernon Wells last Friday.

Napoli said the trade to Texas ends a "crazy couple of days."

Napoli is a right-handed hitter who batted .238 with 26 homers and 68 RBIs in 140 games with the Angels in 2010. Napoli hit .305 against left-handed pitching, the top mark on the team.

The Rangers plan on utilizing him as a power bat off the bench and someone who can play first base, catcher or designated hitter when needed.

Napoli was exclusively a catcher in his first four seasons with the Angels, but started 67 games at first base filling in for the injured Kendry Morales in 2010. He also made 59 starts at catcher.

"I'm proud to be a Texas Ranger," Napoli said. "I'm excited. I can't wait to get to spring training and try to win a job and help these guys win."

During his career, Napoli has put up an average of .251 with 92 homers and 249 RBIs in 506 games, all with the Angels.

The Rangers give up Francisco, who accepted salary arbitration from the Rangers and was still unsigned. He was 6-4 with a 3.76 ERA and two saves in 56 appearances for the Rangers in 2010. He started the season as the closer, but was moved to a setup role after the first week of the season with Neftali Feliz handling the closer job (and winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award.)

Francisco missed the final five weeks of the season and the entire playoffs with a strained side muscle (latissimus dorsi).

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said he had inquired previously about Francisco, and a deal came together when Texas was among several teams who had already asked him about Napoli.

"Frank Francisco is a guy we've liked for quite some time," Anthopoulos said. "He has closing experience and will compete for a chance to close. This is going to be an open competition."

Kevin Gregg agreed to a two-year contract with Baltimore this winter after saving 37 games for Toronto last season. Octavio Dotel saved 22 games for the Blue Jays last year and Jon Rauch, who signed with Toronto last week, had 21 saves filling in for injured Joe Nathan in Minnesota.

Francisco accepted salary arbitration in December instead of becoming a free agent. He asked for $4,875,000 and Texas offered $3.5 million, only a slight bump from his $3,265,000 salary last season.

Napoli is also eligible for arbitration and is unsigned for 2011, joining Josh Hamilton.

"He's a player that we know well after playing against him the last five years or so," said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, who is in the Dominican Republic this week. "He complements what we're doing. He can catch, play first base, is a power right-handed bat and gives Wash [manager Ron Washington] a lot of versatility. He's a big-time competitor who plays hard and plays to win." Daniels said the club's acquisition of pitching depth allowed it to trade Francisco, who was an integral part of the bullpen the past few seasons.

"We certainly wish Frankie all the best in Toronto," Daniels said. "He was a very good part of what we were doing for a number of years and I think the organization has done a good job of adding to our bullpen and our pitching depth over the last couple of years to where we felt we could make this type of move."

Texas already signed free-agent catcher Yorvit Torrealba from San Diego to a $6.25 million, two-year deal to be its starter and re-signed backup Matt Treanor. Daniels expects all three catchers to be on the roster, especially considering Napoli's versatility.

"This is a winning player and a winning piece of the puzzle," Daniels said. "We got a taste of the World Series last year, and we want to get back and we think Mike helps us do that."

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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