It was not long ago that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox got into feverish bidding wars over the top marquee free agents throughout all of Major League Baseball. It happened almost every offseason. The Yankees and Red Sox would throw more money at free agents than any other teams, and it was simply up to the player which team he would rather join.
It happened with Mark Teixeira. It happened with Carl Crawford. It even happened with Bernie Williams many years back. It appears as if both the Yankees and Red Sox have once again set their sights on the same player this offseason.
But it may not be who would would think.
The Yankees and Red Sox are not engaging in a bidding war over Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke, Michael Bourn or any of the other top free agents. They are going to get into a bidding war over catcher/first baseman/designated hitter Mike Napoli, formerly of the Texas Rangers.
I am not trying to make light of the situation or of Napoli. He is a solid hitter who would be an excellent addition for either New York or Boston. But he is not the type of player with whom these two teams generally get into bidding wars over.
Not even close.
Joking aside, if the Yankees were to sign Napoli, that would more than likely mean that they would not attempt to bring back Russell Martin. Napoli would handle the catching duties until either Austin Romine or another catching prospect is ready, or until they trade away another one such as was the case with Jesus Montero. Napoli would also spell Teixeira at first at times, as well as see some time at designated hitter. His low batting average and high power numbers would fit right in with the rest of the Yankees’ lineup.
If Napoli were to sign with the Red Sox, it may mean that Boston would then look to trade away either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway. Napoli would also serve as the team’s primary catcher but, depending on what they decide to do about that gaping hole at first base, he may see just as much time manning the position left by Adrian Gonzalez when Boston traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in last summer’s blockbuster deal.
The market for catchers this free agent is weak. Along with Napoli or Martin, teams really only have A.J. Pierzynski to consider adding as potential every day catchers who can still produce at the plate, as well as from behind. Napoli is clearly the biggest home run threat of the three, although all are capable of coming up with a big hit in clutch situations.
This could be already getting blown out of proportion, just because it involves the Yankees and Red Sox. Napoli may not sign with either team. Then again, the fact that these two may both help in driving up his price is something that he will not complain about any time soon.
Having the Yankees and Red Sox after the same player is always good for business.
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