Is looking for a backup to Mike Napoli evidence that negotiations are progressing?
While Nick Cafardo doesn't say who, he is reporting on Twitter that the Boston Red Sox are looking for a left-handed first baseman and outfielder who can compliment both Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes on the roster. Mike Napoli hits righties well, but he's not a great defensive player, so, in his case, this likely has more to do with bringing in someone with a glove for first. For Gomes, it has more to do with the bat side of things, as he destroys southpaws, but is average at best against right-handed hitters.
Just who is out there for this role is the question, though. The Pirates don't want to trade Garrett Jones, given he's been one of their better hitters over the past couple of years, and one would assume Boston would have tried to make that part of the Joel Hanrahan trade if it were a real possibility, anyway. The Rockies Tyler Colvin could be a fit, but they would need to be willing to trade him, and even though he's better against right-handers, he still only owns a .304 career on-base against them. Mike Carp is likely available given the glut of first base, left field, and DH types in Seattle, but he has a reverse platoon split in his career, and is also Mike Carp. There's switch-hitting Justin Smoak, but it's unclear what the Mariners would want for him, and, like Carp, he's actually been better against lefties.
It could end up being none of those players, but, like with everything else that seems to be going on at this point of the off-season, we're just going to have to wait and see who the Sox are thinking about.
In the back of a tweet talking about Napoli's Red Sox shirt already being on sale despite the signing not being official, Cafardo also mentions that Boston is attempting to insure Napoli's hip. That would be a significant change for the organization, as the reason they attempt to add injury-related language to their deals in the first place is because owner John Henry doesn't like to insure contracts after he was burned by Alex Fernandez back in his Marlins days, and Larry Lucchino had similar issues with former Padres' pitcher Randy Myers.
If, however, Napoli's side wouldn't budge on the injury clauses and language, this might be the only way to keep him from attempting to head back into the market for someone with a little more desperation in their negotiations.