First baseman Mike Napoli had a terrific season and was a huge part of the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. Even though the Red Sox have reportedly offered him a one-year deal, the slugger is currently seeing what else is available to him in free agency. At this point, would Boston be smart to move on from Napoli and push hard for free-agent first baseman Corey Hart?
Both players are dealing with previous injuries that could come up again in the near future. The avascular necrosis in Napoli’s hip has been a hot topic for some teams, while Hart’s right knee could definitely become an issue after he missed the entire 2013 MLB season after undergoing surgery.
“What’s so hard right now is I don’t get cleared until Dec. 3,” Hart told MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM. “We have plenty of teams calling and checking in to see how I’m doing, but until the doctor says I’m 100 percent, they’re going to hold off until that time.
“It’s kind of frustrating because I’ve been 100 percent for the last month. Until I can actually get back out to L.A., I’m kind of in a holding pattern right now.”
The reality is injuries shouldn’t play a role in either player’s performance in 2014. Whether teams want to believe that to be true is up to them. The fact is whoever takes a chance on Napoli or Hart will not be disappointed.
As far as the Red Sox are concerned, either player would be a great fit for the ball club. Both have plenty of power and produce their fair share of runs while also playing stellar defense. Hart will provide a little bit more pop in his bat, will post the better batting average and will most likely be the cheaper of the two players, unless he gets a multi-year deal. On the other hand, he will also strike out more than Napoli and his on-base percentage may not be as high, which is definitely a concern.
Considering the production will be very similar, the Red Sox are probably better off sticking with Napoli for the simple fact that he got the job done in 2013.