On February 7th, the free agent market was shaken up a little bit by not one but two slugging first basemen coming off the market. Mike Napoli signed a 1 yr/$8.5 million contract with his former team, the Rangers, and the Yankees came out of left field, signing Chris Carter to a 1yr/$3 million deal (both deals pending physicals). I really like both of these deals and here's why:
The Napoli deal is definitely good for both sides. Napoli, 35, is coming off one of his better years in recent memory, slugging a career high 34 home runs for the Indians, helping them to the World Series. Napoli has had his fair share of Postseason experience before, helping the 2013 Red Sox to a championship, and being part of a playoff team 5 of the last six years! As a key part of those contending teams, the Rangers will hope he can not only use that to his advantage in a Postseason run, but also help the younger players with little experience on the Rangers. Napoli had some great years in the lone star state with the Rangers, but he will most importantly be filling a massive hole for the Rangers. After losing Prince Fielder due to severe injury, sadly causing him to retire, the Rangers were without a high producing 1st baseman, causing them to have troubles late in the season and into the Postseason. Napoli may not be the best defender any more at first, but he's good enough for the Rangers to trust him, and his bat will surely make up for any issues fielding.
The second signing was a bit of a shocker. The Yankees singed Chris Carter, and I can only see good in this deal. Carter is coming of a better year for himself where he slugged 41 home runs, tying him for the National League lead, and driving in 94. Carter has always been a power threat, constantly slugging high totals of home runs, and Yankee Stadium can only help that. At the left field and right field corners, Yankee Stadium has some of the shortest distances from home plate to the wall, and combined with the immense power Carter has, he should have no problem slugging another high total of homers in 2017. Carter's signing also helps a lot with the Yankees current first base situation. The Yankees have 2 promising youngsters, both eligible to start at first, Greg Bird and Tyler Austin. Both will be entering their first full year in the majors, but Bird will be coming off an injury that shut him down for all of the 2016 season. Bird was very promising however when he debuted in 2015, filling in for an injured Mark Texiera. Come spring and the start of the season, the Yankees will hope to see the same Bird they did in 2015. The other first base candidate is Tyler Austin. Austin looked like he wasn't going to be much for the longest time, even being on the unprotected roster for the Yankees for a good length of time. Austin however was determined, and this determination did not go unnoticed when in 2016 Austin was ranked on MLB pipelines top 100 prospects list. Austin eventually got called up to the Yankees along with Aaron Judge, and that created the memorable day where both Judge and Austin homered back to back in their first major league at-bats. Both of these men played a lot of first base when they were in the majors, and the initial plan was for them to compete for the spot, with having Matt Holliday as a back up if needed. The singing of Carter now creates that depth for the Yankees in case a player didn't produce, or was injured. It also give Holliday a break because he won't have to worry about extensive playing time at a new position, because Carter will now back up at first. Finally for the 2 young guys, they now have a veteran first baseman to help them, almost like what they had with Mark Texiera. The Yankees will hopefully get not only depth from Carter, but a healthy dose of the long ball as well.
Both these signings have been big for the market, that players signed, and the teams who picked them up. The market losses 2 first basemen who hit for a great deal of power, the players get a chance to show the consistency of their skills in an effort to make more money next year, and the teams have filled several holes and get solid players. I feel both these deals are great and they'll benefit their teams and it'll be very exciting to see just how they pan out in the coming season.