Napoli, Red Sox agree to one-year, $5 million deal
By Ian Browne /01/17/13 8:53 PM ET
BOSTON -- The Red Sox have finally landed right-handed-hitting slugger Mike Napoli, but it won't be for the three-year, $39 million pact the sides originally agreed on back in early December.
Instead, Napoli, according to a baseball source, has agreed to terms on a one-year, $5 million deal, with incentives that can bring it up to $13 million.
The new agreement was first reported by Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington had nothing new to report on Napoli's status on Thursday night, but he acknowledged that the sides are moving closer to an official announcement.
"We're making some progress," Cherington said prior to a taping of NESN's Red Sox town hall meeting in Providence, R.I. "It's fair to say we've made some progress in the last day or so. Hopefully, we'll have something more formal to say soon, but not tonight."
When Napoli underwent a physical in Boston last month, the Red Sox spotted a hip issue that stalled the contract from being consummated.
The sides spent 45 days trying to make a deal that worked for both parties before reaching common ground on Thursday.
Napoli will be Boston's starting first baseman and will give the team some thunder in the middle of its lineup to complement lefty slugger David Ortiz.
"We like his offense in Fenway; we like the versatility," Cherington said of Napoli in December.
A catcher most of his career, Napoli might get to serve in that role on a part-time basis for Boston, but the primary reason the Sox acquired him was for his bat.
The Red Sox are already deep at the catching position, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway vying for playing time.
Napoli is a powerful pull hitter who is a strong fit for Fenway Park, where he is a .307 hitter with nine homers, 20 RBIs and a 1.138 on-base plus slugging percentage in 75 career at-bats, including the postseason.
The 31-year-old Napoli hit .227 with 24 homers and 56 RBIs for the Rangers in 2012, making his first All-Star team. The Red Sox hope Napoli can get back to the level he was at in '11, his first year with Texas, when he hit .320 with 30 homers, 75 RBIs and a 1.046 OPS.
Napoli has played 727 games in the Majors, hitting .259 with 146 homers, 380 RBIs and an .863 OPS.