Mike Napoli's free agency is approaching a "critical stage" according to Ken Rosenthal, with an unnamed team having put the pressure on the Red Sox with an offer to the first baseman:
Sources: Napoli talks at critical stage. He wants to stay with #RedSox, but has offer from another club that Sox need to match or exceed.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2013
As Rosenthal said, Napoli has made it no secret that he wants to come back to the Red Sox to make a run at another World Series with the team. He's been popping up all over Boston, particularly at other teams' games, and based on their Twitter interactions he and Will Middlebrooks are in full-on bromance mode.
But, as we have been reminded this past week, baseball is a business. Given that Napoli has the price tag of a draft pick attached, it's probably safe to say his offer is for at least two years, if not the three that Alex Speier says Napoli is after. If the Red Sox buy into the red flags--a high strikeout rate and BABIP suggest there's a very real chance for regression--and decide they're not comfortable coming up to meet the market on Napoli, that will likely be that for his time with the team.