One of the longest story lines this offseason for the Boston Red Sox was working out the contract language of Mike Napoli. Boston was after the former catcher turned first baseman almost as soon as the free-agent season started and they agreed to a three-year contract with him pretty quickly. However, while he was getting his physical, it was discovered that he had a degenerative hip disease that even Napoli himself wasn’t aware of.
Because of this issue, the official agreement and signing dragged and dragged and dragged. Finally, he agreed to a one-year deal worth about 13 million dollars with incentives. One of the incentives was being on the active roster for 165 days, which he has now done. The hip disease has never caused an issue this season. This really has increased Napoli’s value heading into the offseason. He has also been red-hot during the month of September. Teams will not be afraid of courting him with multi-year offers during the winter because he has proven that he can stay healthy. However, Napoli’s first choice is returning to the Red Sox.
Napoli has commented about how much he loves it in Boston and how he feels that this year has been an unbelievable experience. He is definitely a great fit for the Red Sox, not just in terms of his right-handed power, and because he gives protection to David Ortiz but also his personality, which has helped turn around a clubhouse that was so dysfunctional and divisive. They have become a team that absolutely loves playing together and currently is in first place in their division. Napoli will probably be a target for a lot of teams during the winter because he is one of the better options out there for first basemen. He also has shown that he can handle the position well. He may not be a Gold Glover, but he has been much better at the position then most people would have thought before the season started. Boston needs to resign him and that should be one of their top priorities, and furthermore, he wants to come back.
Bring back Napoli, beard and all.