Mike Napoli, Not Jacoby Ellsbury, Is The Bigger Key For Boston Red Sox

By Nick Schaeflein
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB saw a flurry of deals on Friday as still a precursor to the Winter Meetings next week. Who says that baseball is slow in December? Like a heavy-weight fight with boxers trading punches back and forth, just as one deal was announced, another quickly countered.

Overall, much of the day was centered around the “Evil Empire” New York Yankees, with players coming and going from the Bronx. The Seattle Mariners and New York Mets also got in on the act, both signing former Yankees to deals. From the Mets’ perspective, Curtis Granderson is a nice signing for that franchise. Granderson is one of the good guys in the game with all of the off-field work that he does. On the field, Granderson will give David Wright a much needed boost in that lineup.

Not to be forgotten out east, the World Champion Boston Red Sox are not sitting ideally either. They have already added Edward Mujica to the bullpen and signed A.J. Pierzynski to be the new starting catcher. Boston’s latest move was resigning Mike Napoli to a two-year, $32 million deal. Napoli will head back to first base for the champs and be the primary right-handed protection in the order for David Ortiz.

The Red Sox’ attention could now potentially turn to the shortstop position and Stephen Drew. Drew is the last of the core free agents Boston had at the start of the winter. Will they considered bringing him back, or entrust the everyday left side of the infield to youngsters Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts?

In terms of Napoli, he could arguably have been a more important piece for Boston to resign ahead of Ellsbury. For starters, Napoli does not have the same injury risk as Ellsbury does. In addition, Napoli has a considerably less of a price tag, allowing money to be spent elsewhere.

While Ellsbury is a tremendous lead-off hitter, the Red Sox can fill that void with Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia or even Jackie Bradley Jr. However, losing Napoli would have been very difficult to replace. Having his bat hitting behind Ortiz makes the order balanced and longer. Napoli will provide consistent power and drive in runs in the middle of the Red Sox order.

As Napoli posted on his Twitter account, “The beard is coming back to Boston.”

Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.

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