It’s official: Rangers, Napoli finally reunited for 3rd stint

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Mike Napoli has rejoined the Texas Rangers for the third time, calling it a great opportunity to be back with his first World Series team.

The Rangers re-introduced Napoli on Thursday morning. He got an $8.5 million, one-year contract that includes a club option for 2018, with the expectation to be the primary first baseman and provide a needed big bat.

The long-rumored reunion was finalized after Napoli passed a required physical on Wednesday.

Napoli has played in the World Series for three different teams over the past six seasons. He went to the World Series with Texas in 2011, was part of a championship in Boston in 2013 and helped the Indians reach Game 7 last year in his only season with Cleveland.

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“I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to be on a lot of winning ballclubs,” Napoli said. “Coming back here is definitely something that I saw was a chance to do that.”

Napoli will get a $6 million salary this year from the team that has won the AL West title the past two seasons. The agreement includes an $11 million club option for 2018 with a $2.5 million buyout.

In his first season with Texas in 2011, Napoli hit .320 with 30 homers in 113 regular-season games and had 10 RBIs in the World Series. He was the starting catcher for the AL All-Star team in 2012, though he also played first base during that two-year span in Texas before going to the Red Sox as a free agent. He played some left field in 2015.

“No intro needed,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “Obviously a guy that has been part of some big moments for the Rangers over the years here, and looking forward to some big moments with him again, and glad to have him back.”

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Manager Jeff Banister plans for Napoli to be the primary first baseman, with some games as the designated hitter.

Mitch Moreland won a Gold Glove as the Rangers’ first baseman last season. He became a free agent and agreed to a $5.5 million, one-year deal with Boston.

Despite only being around Napoli for the end of the 2015 season, Banister saw the slugger’s relentless pursuit of wanting to win a World Series.

“It was an absolute joy to be around him,” Banister said. “Another part of the glue that puts together, in my mind, when we start thinking about a championship run.”

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The 35-year-old Napoli, going into his 12th major league season, set career highs with 34 homers and 101 RBIs with Cleveland last year. He is a .252 career hitter with the Los Angeles Angels (2006-10), Texas (2011-12, 2015), Boston (2013-15) and Cleveland.