Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
The Red Sox are far from alone in their want for Mike Napoli, and now, a new challenger approaches
The Mariners are reportedly interested in signing Mike Napoli, news that's likely depressing to either first baseman Justin Smoak or catcher/designated hitter Jesus Montero. (Or, maybe both!) Of more consequence to the Red Sox, though, is that another team is inquiring on a target that they are very publicly intrigued by.
Boston does have some things going for them here, though. The Mariners might be moving the fences in at Safeco, but it's still no Fenway Park when it comes to offensive numbers. Napoli is likely in line to sign a three-year deal with someone, meaning he'll be 34 years old when he looks for his next contract. That's a little late in life to risk needing an Adrian Beltre-type rebound season in somewhere like Fenway in order to get his next payday. Especially for Napoli, whose skill-set, one that lacks speed and defense, works best the younger he is. It's unlikely to be the primary reason Napoli chooses Boston over Seattle, but it might give him reason to mull it over even if the Mariners offer more money, especially since, as tough as the AL East will be, it's not as if Seattle has it easy out west these days.
That being said, there's no real reason to think the Mariners will offer more, as they don't have as much room in the budget as the Red Sox. They also reportedly "covet" the Royals' Billy Butler, who would fill much the same role as Napoli by sticking at first base, DH, or both, and if they were to focus their energies there and acquire him, Napoli would be minus one suitor. It's still too early in the off-season to know just how things will shake out, but we can at least add the Mariners to the list of rivals for Napoli's attention.