Mike Napoli is the newest member of the Boston Red Sox
The first domino has fallen for the Boston Red Sox in the 2012 off-season as the Boston Red Sox and free-agent catcher/first-basemen Mike Napoli have agreed to terms on a deal. The deal is worth $39 million over 3 years.
First the good news with the deal. That is a really fair contract for Mike Napoli. When the Boston Red Sox were reportedly in talks for Mike Napoli, I was worried they would overspend for him. Considering they already had three other catchers on the roster, that didn’t seem like the proper path to take for a team that just shed bad contracts in order to build a more cost-efficient team in the same vein as the early Theo Epstein teams. For that price, and the fact that he will primarily play first-base for the Boston Red Sox is fair. He’s also a fairly good hitter. Here are his key stats from the past three seasons:
Not bad at all.
I have two fears. First, he isn’t a great defensive first basemen, especially considering that this team had Adrian Gonzalez manning first base for the past season and a half. That’s a downgrade there. I also worry about how streaky he has been. For example, look at the OPS he posted in 2011. That’s pretty nuts. Now compare it two the other two seasons in that chart and you can kind of get where the worry comes from. He has one of the best OPS’s in baseball over that time, but that’s also because he has two weeks where he goes on absolute power-surges and crushes the ball followed by two weeks where he couldn’t hit a baseball with an oversized tennis racket.
Maybe that is a result of the fact that Napoli has been a catcher for the Rangers. More than likely, he will play almost every-day for the Boston Red Sox which can only help him get into a more consistent groove throughout the season. Maybe playing every-day is what he needs to finally reach his full potential.
Overall, Mike Napoli is a stopgap before the next round of prospects get here. $13 million a year over the next three years is a fair-price for that stopgap, and you can’t really go wrong when that stop-gap is Mike Napoli.