Mike Napoli will be traded this offseason. There is no question about it.

As paradoxical as it seems, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a team severely lacking in power and RBI production this year, are headed down an inevitable and potentially dangerous path toward trading their current team leader in home runs.

Last month, the Angels’ catcher/first baseman was placed on waivers and eventually claimed by the Boston Red Sox. The move in itself is hardly meaningful. Angels General Manager Tony Reagins said nearly every player on the roster was placed on waivers.

The Red Sox claim ultimately proved fruitless as well. The two sides were said to be in negotiations briefly, and the Angels declined Boston’s offer, as predicted.

What’s important to take away from this scenario is the intent behind the Angels’ actions.

Often times, teams will put players they have no intention of trading on waivers as a means to gauge the league’s interest in them. If a player is claimed, both teams must come to some mutual agreement on a swap before the player is offered to another team or is pulled off waivers altogether.

The Angels, however, seemed to have a plan in mind when they dangled Napoli to the rest of the league. Not only did they want to see what teams—particularly contenders—would offer for him, they wanted the league to know he is available to the highest bidder.

Reagins didn’t plan on trading Napoli in August, but you can bet the slugger won’t be donning a halo come April.

The catcher’s troubles started in Spring Training this year, when he lost the starting job to his good buddy Jeff Mathis, despite a terrific month of March in which he lead the majors in home runs.

Napoli griped about his new bench assignment until an injury to Mathis allowed him to reclaim his spot behind the dish. A much more devastating injury to the Angels’ phenomenal first baseman Kendry Morales gave Nap the opportunity to play every day, and overall he’s done well.

His batting average is down this season, almost 30 points from a year ago, but he’s already set new career highs in home runs (24) and RBI (65) with his added playing time.

The Angels are having a season to forget, but it could’ve been much worse had they not been able to pluck Napoli from the depth chart.

The problem is, they don’t need him anymore.

At first base, Morales is expected to make a full recovery and should return to playing form by spring, bringing with him a massive power threat in the middle of the lineup and a morale booster in the clubhouse.

Napoli could be a useful backup at first, but we’ve already seen how well he takes to that role. The last thing the Angels need is another grumpy face in the dugout who whines to the press about his playing time. Gary Matthews, Jr. was enough.

Besides which, the Angels already have a suitable backup at first. In fact, they have two.

The veteran Kevin Frandsen was terrific in his time with the big club, batting well over .300 for much of that time, and filling in nicely at both first and third. Mark Trumbo, the Angels’ powerful minor league first baseman, is also going to get a good look this spring.

Trumbo‘s first major league at-bat didn’t go quite like he probably had hoped (he struck out on three pitches), but if can bring some of that Salt Lake swagger to Anaheim, he’ll get plenty more chances.

Napoli is also in the middle of a logjam at the catching position. Aside from Mathis, who had already beat him out for the starting gig, youngsters Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger are quickly on the rise.

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia still likes Mathis for his defense, but no team can support a sub .200 hitter, no matter his other assets. Wilson, on the other hand, has more home runs, nearly as many RBI, and is hitting for a higher average than Mathis, and is doing it all in almost 100 fewer at-bats.

Conger, like Trumbo, made his major league debut this season and, also like Trumbo, it could’ve gone a little better. But striking out on four pitches won’t be the sum total of his big league career and if he can show some improvement in Spring Training, look for him to at least be an early season call-up.

With all of that in mind, the Angels will have a hard time fitting Napoli into their 2011 plans. As the saying goes, though, “have bat, will travel.” And with his potential to hit 30 home runs a year on the market, teams will be lining up to offer major and minor league compensation for his services.

Napoli‘s days in this league are far from numbered, but his time with the Angels is running out.

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