Contract language continues to hold up a Napoli to Boston deal
With the Washington Nationals coming to terms with first-baseman Adam LaRoche early Tuesday morning, the Boston Red Sox have lost their back-up plan to play first-base for the team in the 2013 season. At no point were the Red Sox supposed to be involved in talks for Adam LaRoche, at least not this late in the game. About a month ago, the Boston Red Sox already signed their man to play first-base in the upcoming season. That guy was Mike Napoli of the Texas Rangers. A couple days later, the Boston Red Sox made two other semi-major free-agent signings and held a press-conference to introduce both of those players. Mike Napoli, however, was not in attendance and despite the fact that a deal was agreed upon 36 days ago, there has been no sign that Napoli will be officially signed any time soon.
The issue came up during his physical when the Boston Red Sox red-flagged some issues with his hip that may prevent him from being the every day first-baseman. Such injuries should not have come as a shock for the Boston Red Sox top-brass. Napoli was formerly a catcher and these type of issues routinely pop up for catchers due to their increased time crouching behind the plate. Both the Sox and Napoli have been trying to come up with different language in the deal to protect the Boston Red Sox in case of debilitating injury. On Tuesday morning, Napoli’s agent stated that “there is nothing new to report” in their contract negotiations.
Why the increased importance? Well, as previously mentioned, the Boston Red Sox back-up plan is now off the market as LaRoche is returning to Washington to supply more “Natitude” to the Nationals faithful. If something can’t be figured out with Napoli, the Boston Red Sox options at first-base become severely limited. Contract language protecting the Red Sox is nothing new to the team as the Gordon Edes report mentions, but the fact that it is now holding up the Napoli deal has to be worrisome.
I have never been one to believe in the set “roles” of a team in baseball such as the first-basemen has to be a power-hitting guy or a shortstop is a fielding only guy who barely hits .220. I feel you pay guys what they are worth at a position. Obviously, fielding at shortstop is important so if a player can’t field well, it would be unwise to pay him a large chunk of cash just because he can hit. It doesn’t have to be the shortstops only role though. Building off that, Napoli isn’t the typical first-base power hitter. He is a career .256/.356/.507 hitter and had 24 home-runs in 108 games last year. He isn’t going to hit forty home-runs, but he is a nice five spot hitter, something that the Boston Red Sox desperately need if they want to even imagine competing for the AL East next year.
Hopefully, the Boston Red Sox can come to some kind of deal sooner than later. Pitchers and catchers reporting is coming up faster than we may think which means spring, and baseball season, is right around the corner.