Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
The Red Sox have their man! Mike Napoli will be coming to Boston on a 3-year deal.
The Boston Red Sox and Mike Napoli have agreed to a deal that will bring the free agent catcher/first baseman to Boston. According to Alex Speier, the deal is for three years, with Pete Abraham saying the Sox will pay a bit more per year to keep it at three.
[Update -- Jon Heyman has it at 3/$39, which frankly isn't much of an AAV bump over what was expected.]
Napoli, 31, has been the top target for Boston so far this offseason as they look to fill the hole left by Adrian Gonzalez at first base after the midseason trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers. While Napoli's 2012 line of .227/.343/.469 isn't exactly amazing for the position, he's reached much greater heights in 2008 and 2011, hitting .273/.374/.586 and .320/.414/.631 in those respective seasons.
Napoli comes with a few added benefits for the Red Sox as well. First there's the fact that he can play behind the plate as well as at first, leaving the Sox with a great deal of positional flexibility if they want to get creative in filling out the rest of their roster. The Red Sox have said they're primarily interested in him as a first baseman, but it sounds like he will get some opportunities behind the plate as well. With David Ross in the mix, this could even free up the Sox to get some value in a Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway trade. Possibly even both.
Then there's the fact that Napoli seems a perfect fit for Fenway Park. His career 152 OPS+ in the park may not come in a terribly significant sample size (73 plate appearances), but it gives you an idea of what he might be able to do here.
It's a good start to the Winter Meetings for the Red Sox, who can cross their top target off the list. Given that they managed to hold ground at three years compared to Mike Napoli's desired four, it's also a positive sign going forward for a front office that's looking to stay conservative in terms of long-term deals.