Mike Napoli is the perfect player for the Yankees right now

Last week’s trade of Brian McCann opened up more than the Yankees’ designated hitter spot.

It also gave the team some financial flexibility, giving Brian Cashman some more dollars to work with if he wants to go out and get a big bat such as Yoenis Cespedes or Edwin Encarnacion, who have both been linked to the Yankees already this offseason.

During the general managers meetings, I outlined all the reasons why Cespedes is not a good fit for the Yankees at this time, namely the youth movement that will dominate the 2017 season.

For those same reasons, signing Encarnacion — who is seeking a four- or five-year deal worth at least $20 million annually — makes no sense, either. Signing a 34-year-old to a deal that takes him into his late-30s doesn’t fit the mission statement the Yankees have laid out since last July.

If the Yankees are itching to bring in a veteran bat, go get Mike Napoli.

Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t fit the Yankees’ blueprint for the future.

Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t fit the Yankees’ blueprint for the future.

(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The 35-year-old will likely be looking for no more than a two-year deal, making him the ideal place holder while the Yankees work toward their two primary goals: getting a real look at their young talent, and trimming the payroll beneath the luxury tax threshold, whatever that number might be in 2018.

In addition to being the primary DH, Napoli would provide a quality insurance option for Greg Bird, who is coming back from major shoulder surgery. He would also bring some much-needed postseason experience to a team that suddenly lacks that element, having seen veterans including Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Ivan Nova and Andrew Miller all depart in the past four months.

Carlos Beltran remains another short-term option, but unlike Napoli, he doesn’t play first base — and he hasn’t won a championship. Beltran, who turns 40 in April, is more likely to look for a true contender to sign with, hoping to land that elusive World Series ring.

Napoli has been to the World Series with three different teams since 2011, winning it all with the 2013 Red Sox. As long as he’s willing to shave his beard — which is no certainty — he would be a perfect fit with the new-look Yankees.

Edwin Encarnacion is probably looking to get close to $20 million a year for four or five years.

Edwin Encarnacion is probably looking to get close to $20 million a year for four or five years.

(Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Besides, who doesn’t like a good party? Napoli was one of the leaders on the Indians’ pennant-winner this season, with thousands of “Party at Napoli’s” shirts popping up around Cleveland.

The Yankees will say all the right things about contending this season, but they know the bigger picture is what matters most. Napoli, known as a terrific teammate at every stop he’s made, would provide a good mentor for some of the younger players trying to get their legs underneath them as they begin their careers.

For years, the Yankees have been big-game hunters during free agency. They need to resist that temptation no matter how nicely Encarnacion or Cespedes would look in the lineup next season.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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