Rumor: Red Sox, Mike Napoli Restart Negotiations

Ezra Shaw

There might be a snag in the Napoli deal after all

There's no confirmation of this anywhere, just a single tweet from Will Carroll. But, supposedly, the Red Sox and Mike Napoli have restarted free agent negotiations, with Boston looking to knock a year off of the agreed-upon three-year contract, while continuing to pay Napoli $13 million per season.

Read between the lines, and it becomes clearer that something was amiss in Napoli's physical, performed on Monday. Going back to what Jim Duquette reported Wednesday, it's possible that his hip -- which kept the Mariners from making an offer -- is to blame.

Now, this sounds bad, but there's plenty of reason to think Napoli is Boston's player still, even if there is a restart. For one, the Mariners didn't want to give him an offer before, and this likely has not changed. The Indians previously made an offer, but have since signed Mark Reynolds, so their interested might be lessened as they focus on adding a replacement for Shin-Soo Choo. Plus, there's no word on negotiations being broken off -- if there's a problem with one team, there will be issues elsewhere -- so it's not as Napoli is desperate to get out.

This also wouldn't be the first time that the Red Sox have spent time reworking a deal for a player whose physical they didn't like. J.D. Drew negotiated for another 52 days about his shoulder, John Lackey had an injury-clause option inserted for 2015, and Jason Bay's deal for 2010 and beyond was supposed to include something to protect Boston against a knee injury. (More details for all of this here.)

With that being said, it's possibly telling that Nick Swisher has been repeatedly mentioned as remaining on Boston's radar, as he could also play first base. The Red Sox most-likely want to move fast on this Napoli thing, but get it right, before someone like Swisher vanishes to become an Indian, Ranger, or Mariner. Remember, though: there has been no confirmation of this from the front office, or from any part of the Boston media yet, so treat this as a rumor for now.

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