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Pirates rumors: Bucs interested in Mike Napoli

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have interest in free agent first baseman Mike Napoli, MLB.com's Adam Berry writes.

In the past, I've liked Napoli as a potential acquisition for the Pirates, but I'm not sure I get it now. He's 34, and his hitting has declined from great to above-average to adequate over the past four seasons. He's probably due for a bit of dead-cat bounce after his .224/.324/.410 season in 2015, and he still does hit homers and draw walks. But he's right-handed, and he looks like merely a marginal upgrade over Michael Morse at this point. The Pirates could conceivably use both players, but a left-handed first base option or a clearer upgrade over Morse would be better fits for them than Napoli would be.

It could be that the Pirates are engaging in some gamesmanship here. Over the weekend, I noted this piece about Mitch Moreland from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Grant wrote that trading the left-handed Moreland to Pittsburgh would allow the Rangers to save money to re-sign Napoli, who would be a better fit for their lineup. Perhaps by pursuing Napoli, the Pirates are increasing pressure on the Rangers to make a move. But that's speculation, of course.