Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/4/13
Mike Napoli ended up signing with Boston, but the whole drawn out process and Napoli’s final contract terms make much of his future, both short- and long-term, very uncertain. Ultimately, Napoli and the Red Sox agreed to a one-year, $5MM contract with incentives that could bring the full value of the deal up to $13MM. Considering the original deal was three years with $39MM guaranteed, Napoli sure had to cave a lot to get a deal done, and the fact that he couldn’t find a better deal out there on the free agent market only adds to concerns over Napoli’s health. It seems like Napoli and Boston are perfect for each other and the incentives are based on playing time as opposed to productivity, so I’m not surprised he agreed to the final terms of the deal. You can read our full breakdown of the Napoli to Boston signing here. For the abridged version, keep reading below. At a Glance Strengths: HR, RBI, SLG, OBP, OPS Neutral: R, BA Weaknesses: SB, health Player Comparisons Best-case scenario: Carlos Santana (CLE) Likely scenario: Matt Wieters (BAL), Nelson Cruz (TEX), Jason Kubel (ARI) Worst-case scenario: Pedro Alvarez (PIT) Mike Napoli 2013 Fantasy Projection For the second straight season, Napoli finds himself in a contract year. For a player with two degenerative hips, he’s going to need to play his tail off to prove he’s worth another significant contract. Combined with Boston’s need for both a right-handed power bat and a first baseman, Napoli figures to get plenty of opportunities to earn that next payday. While Fenway Park isn’t quite as accommodating for hitters as Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the Green Monster will still prove to be a nice target, though Napoli is actually a fairly balanced hitter when it comes to spraying balls to all fields. His batting average in 2011 was too high, and his average in 2012 was too low, so the smart, easy move is to project his 2013 average falls somewhere in between. For the most part, though, Napoli will gain a lot of value just by virtue of increased playing time even if his per-game production falls off, and that’s enough for him to land at 112 in our pre-season rankings. In OBP leagues he’s a safe choice as a top-100 pick. Tweet
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