Posted December 06, 2013

Red Sox re-sign Mike Napoli for $32 million over two years

Boston Red Sox, Mike Napoli
Mike Napoli, Red Sox

Mike Napoli had 23 home runs and 92 RBIs while helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

As confirmed by his own twitter account, Mike Napoli has come to terms on a new contract with the Boston Red Sox that, according to Comcast Sports Net’s Sean McAdam, will pay him $32 million over the next two seasons. When combined with the $13 million he made this past season, Napoli will now be paid $45 million for the 2013-15 seasons. That’s more than the $39 million total value of the three-year deal the Red Sox renegotiated with him last winter after avascular necrosis, degenerative disorder that kills bone tissue, was detected in both of Napoli’s hips during his physical.

The Red Sox reworked that deal into a one-year contract last winter and made Napoli a full-time first baseman for the first time in his career. Napoli, whose condition can be controlled if caught early enough, responded by hitting .259/.360/.482 — a performance very close to his career line — with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs in a career-high 578 at-bats. He also added two key home runs in the American League Championship Series against the Tigers, both coming in games the Red Sox won by one run, and emerged as an excellent defensive first baseman.

That performance earned Napoli the two years the Red Sox initially knocked off his contract and a nice raise, from $13 million to an average annual value of $16 million. Reports suggest there were several other teams interested in Napoli’s services this offseason, with WEEI’s Rob Bradford and Alex Speier reporting the Rangers were believed to have offered Napoli a larger contract to return to Texas, but, as evidenced by his tweet linked above, Napoli very much wanted to return to Boston.

That’s a nice break for the Red Sox, who lost starting center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to higher bidders earlier in this crazy week of Hot Stove action. A two-year deal for the 32-year-old Napoli is a safe one that suits Boston’s needs just fine as $16 million is an appropriate price to pay for a player of his value. Likewise, two years is a safe gamble given Napoli, despite his strong 2013 season, is still a former catcher entering his mid-30s with a degenerative hip condition.

Napoli is the third free agent the Red Sox have signed to a multi-million dollar deal this week. They picked up A.J. Pierzynski on a one-year contract worth $8.25 million Monday morning, before Saltalamacchia came to terms with the Marlins, and right-handed set-up man Edward Mujica, who agreed to a two-year pact worth $9.5 million on Thursday.

CORCORAN: A.J. Pierzynski signing more about frugality than upgrade for Red Sox

In a radio interview in the wake of the Ellsbury signing on Wednesday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said his team was going “to do anything we can” to re-sign Napoli and free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. So look for the team to turn its focus to Drew now that it has come to terms with Napoli. The Sox could also use help for sophomore Jackie Bradley Jr, Ellbury’s projected replacement in center field. However, as the Hot Stove continues to bubble over, their options there have already decreased by one as the news of Napoli’s signing was quickly followed by the Yankees, who signed Ellsbury, coming to terms on a three-year deal with Carlos Beltran.

15 comments
MrArlington
MrArlington

So now Boston has two more years of this drunken slob walking shirtless through the streets of Boston?

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

While the Sox over paid for Napoli, their strategy of over paying short term is smart one. When other teams are wallowing under the dead weight of massive contracts to washed up or injured players the Sox will have the flexibility to add payroll and keep their young stars. (Letting the fragile Ellsbury walk was a very smart choice - I'll bet he is on the DL before June) But I still think trading Iglesias was a stupid move.

HF4th
HF4th

Nap was a must sign deal. If they had let him go, that would have been the rest of their chemistry lost to free agency. But with Mike this new look team will be less of a question mark next spring.

Charles58
Charles58

If they can keep Drew then they will have kept 2 out of the 4 key free agents. I love Napoli in a Red Sox uniform, he has the right personality for this team. I would have loved to have found a way to keep Ellsbury, but not for the outrageous price the Yankees paid for him. Salty was a wash for me - he was a solid catcher but his offense was inconsistent, and Pierzynski is probably a better hitter. If Jackie Bradley Jr. is up for the challenge he could be a nice replacement for Ells. I would be a happy man if the Red Sox can stay on top of the Yankees this year despite all the ridiculous spending, and the Yankees have not fixed their pitching problem yet. Ellsbury and Beltran are nice pickups, but without pitching are not going to take you to the World Series.

pamperofirpo
pamperofirpo

If the Red Sox can work a deal for Matt Kemp, with the Dodgers picking up a third of his salary, they should move quickly in this direction.

HF4th
HF4th

No, the Sox underpaid for Napoli. Without his bat in the ALCS, Boston does not get by Detroit. Nap is too clutch in the post season to be undervalued and marginalized like this. Numbers gurus need to get their heads out of the regular season sand and count playoff performance when championships are won and lost in the fall.

DanaBunner
DanaBunner

Agree with you, however not convinced this is even overpaying Napoli in today's market.  He had a WAR of 4.1 in 2013, that translates to a salary in the $20M range.   Average WAR over past 3 seasons of 3.7.   Thus $16M is a fairly decent deal.  Plus he's 32, so they aren't paying for seasons on the wrong side of 35, a la the recent Ellsbury, Beltran, and Granderson deals.  I do believe they will come to regret the Iglesias deal.

HF4th
HF4th

AJ the head case vs. Salty who just caught a worst to first 97 win season? Sox messed up on this one. The value of game calling is an unexamined defensive factor in this sport. And it may come back to haunt them in '14.

UnishowponyWherebeef
UnishowponyWherebeef

@Charles58 It's a decent analysis and I agree with much.


But I beg to differ wrt Saltalamacchia  and Pierzynski.


Salty was a great presence on the bench. When he wasn't playing, he was always watching the games and being social with the other players. It looked like he brought a sense of camaraderie to the team.


Pierzynski has been voted "the most hated player in MLB" by other baseball players. My dread is that 2014 end in another chicken/Bud Light fiasco thanks to his influence on the younger players.

Batgao
Batgao

kemp would've been okay in a red sox uniform but i have doubts about the red sox interest in him considering his injury history thou if the dodgers are willing to pay majority of kemps contract then the sox should actually try and trade for him.

DanaBunner
DanaBunner

Given that the Marlins signed Salty to a 3 year, $21M deal, I'd say the Red Sox did screw up on that one.  That was a very reasonable price.

rbeane1956
rbeane1956

AJ's problem is he is a fierce competitor and he sometimes doesn't keep it under control. I think Big Papi a former teammate of AJ will help keep him contained and it is only for one year.