News first broke of free agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli the Red Sox reaching a three-year, $39 million contract back on December 3rd. Over two weeks later, pen has still yet to meet paper.
The deal reportedly hit a snag during Napoli’s physical, when questions were raised about the health of the 31-year old’s hip. A red flag was clearly raised in the process of closing the agreement and now the Sox reportedly want to cut the deal down to two years.
According to sources close to the situation, members of the Napoli camp don’t think that is necessary because Mike will be used primarily at a first base and not at catcher, where a hip problem is more likely to flare up and be an issue.
The Red Sox want Napoli, who has a well-documented history of injuries, to be their first baseman but also want to make sure their investment is protected, but the two sides have yet to find a common ground. One would assume both parties are optimistic they meet somewhere in the middle because they haven’t called off the deal.
Because a deal has yet to be signed, Napoli is still technically a free agent and can negotiate with other teams, but there are no reports of that happening at the moment. If a deal can’t be reached, the Red Sox have to turn their focus on finding another first baseman either through free agency or on the trade market. The most likely option would be free agent outfielder Nick Swisher, who has some experience at first and has been linked to the Sox this winter.