Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 12/3/12
Early on during the winter meetings, we’ve seen the Rays agree to terms with James Loney, and the Padres agree to terms with Jason Marquis. Now we’ve seen the Red Sox agree to terms with an actual good player, signing Mike Napoli for three years and $39 million. In theory, this’ll cause more dominoes to fall. In reality, more dominoes will fall regardless. From this we can learn a little something about reported rumors and reported demands. Napoli was said on several occasions to be holding out for a four-year contract. He didn’t get it. Napoli was said on some occasions to be insistent on catching. With the Red Sox, he’ll predominantly be a first baseman. Either Napoli isn’t getting exactly what he wanted, or what he wanted wasn’t accurately conveyed. Napoli plugs what was a fairly gaping organizational hole. For a long time the Red Sox had Adrian Gonzalez, and when you have Adrian Gonzalez, it’s less of a priority to accumulate depth at first base. Then the Red Sox wound up with one fewer Adrian Gonzalez and one additional James Loney. Prior to Napoli’s signing, the top first baseman on Boston’s organizational depth chart was Jerry Sands. Behind Sands would’ve been Mauro Gomez. Napoli will probably catch every so often, but Boston has enough catchers, and now Boston has one first baseman. In a way, this felt inevitable. Napoli visited with the Red Sox, Mariners, and Rangers. The Red Sox had the money and the need. The Mariners had both, but would’ve presumably needed to out-bid the Red Sox. The Rangers didn’t think enough of Napoli to extend to him a $13.3 million qualifying offer, which certainly looks like a worse decision now. Even if Napoli badly wanted four years, he wasn’t going to get it, and the Red Sox gave him a satisfactory average annual value. This looked like the right fit, and now this is the actual fit. One thing this does is make Jarrod Saltalamacchia even more available in trade talks. The Red Sox now have Napoli, Saltalamacchia, David Ross, and Ryan Lavarnway, which makes for entirely too much depth at the catcher position. Saltalamacchia’s the most expendable, and he’s the most likely to end up somewhere else. A second thing this does is install Mike Napoli at first base for a while. Napoli is said to be coming off a down season at the plate, but incidentally: Mike Napoli, 2012: 114 wRC+ Adrian Gonzalez, 2012: 115 wRC+ Napoli’s 2012 was poor relative to his 2011, but Napoli’s 2011 was uncharacteristically amazing, and it’s that season that stands out as the anomaly. The strikeout rate didn’t make sense. Napoli’s going to walk, Napoli’s going to go deep, and Napoli’s going to whiff. As he has been, he will presumably continue to be. Napoli, clearly, is a non-elite bat. He doesn’t make a positive contribution running the bases, and he’s not about to win a Gold Glove at first base. He’s made valuable by his power, and the best way to describe his contract with the Red Sox is “fair”. The Red Sox aren’t getting him at a bargain, and the Red Sox also aren’t getting Napoli as a potential albatross, which was never going to happen given the limited number of suitors. Three years and $39 million seems like the right price for a good hitter on the wrong side of 30. It was probably crucial for the Red Sox to get this done now so that they can turn their attention to other parts of the roster in need. Something that’s been noted is that Napoli has hit the crap out of the ball in Fenway Park, to the tune of a 1.107 career OPS. That’s undeniably true, over a sample of 73 plate appearances. Over a sample of 70 plate appearances, Napoli has generated a .657 OPS in US Cellular. You can see where this is going. Napoli is by no means a bad fit for Fenway, but he isn’t an unusually good fit, and he’s coming from Texas, which is just as righty-friendly. As it happens, Napoli has seven career homers in Boston — one to left, two to left-center, one to center, two to right-center, and one to right. He’ll hit his home runs, and he’ll spread them around. At 31, Mike Napoli probably isn’t getting better. He’s never before exceeded 510 plate appearances, and his value is tied up almost entirely in his bat. He has those classic old-player skills that hint at a possible coming decline phase. The Red Sox didn’t just land the bargain of the winter. What they did land is a first baseman who isn’t Jerry Sands or James Loney. The Red Sox got better in an affordable way, and now the rest of the offseason is that much more clear.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Adrien Broner uses Bruce Jenner zinger after win

ESPN explains reason for Dabo Swinney interview error

Brian Kelly: Kizer made right call on 2-point play

Jim Mora calls UCLA's upcoming schedule 'a complete injustice'

Tommy Tuberville returned to Auburn, lined up at Tiger Walk

WATCH: Arizona State pushes pile 20 yards on TD run


Jim McElwain still won't name Will Grier Florida's starter

Steve Smith has microfractures in back, out for Week 5

Cowboys want Brandon Weeden to attempt longer passes

Nebraska captain tells crowd 'I'm sorry we suck'

Report: Dolphins could fire some coaches if team loses to Jets

Georgia fans get #FireRicht trending on Twitter

Cormier tops Gustafsson at UFC 192

Robert Smith wants Braxton Miller back at QB

WATCH: Clemson, Swinney have locker room dance party

10 takeaways from Week 5 of the college football season

WATCH: Dabo Swinney interview awkwardly cut off

Ohio St. LB Darron Lee has message for fans after close win

WATCH: Swedish league player unties opponent's skates

Max Scherzer throws second no-hitter of the season

Ezekiel Elliott jokes he owes his OL a steak dinner

Mike Riley explains questionable pass play on third down

Torey Lovullo would be 'honored' by managerial offers

WATCH: Ohio State stops Indiana on 4th down to win game

McIlroy: Spieth, Day have made me hungry again

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

10 takeaways from Week 5 of the college football season

Rick Pitino and the shadows that never leave

Chad Johnson ... Steelers kicker?

Flacco deserves more from the Ravens

Time for Neymar's Barcelona

Seth Rollins, WWE depth, Divas and winning

Madison Keys and the future of women’s tennis

Most underrated games in NFL Week 4

What to watch in CFB Week 5

Starter strategies for final, tie-breaker and wild card games

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker