Jon Heyman brings welcome news indeed: the Red Sox' nightmare negotiations with Mike Napoli are expected to conclude by next week.
What's not clear is whether or not it will end with Napoli wearing a Red Sox uniform.
While the hybrid first baseman/catcher was Boston's top target from the first day of free agency, and they seemed ready to move quickly on him, some late-game medical information held up the three-year, $39 million deal they had reportedly agreed to. With Napoli's hip a question mark, the Sox sought to minimize their risk by bringing the deal down to two years--possibly even one--or at least to get some level of insurance into the mix.
There's been little news coming from either side, but now it seems like whatever has been going on behind the scenes is pushing towards a final resolution one way or another. It's not apparent at the moment whether that's because the Sox and Napoli have found some acceptable middle-ground, or because one of the "couple other American League teams" Heyman talks about being involved have decided to up their offer.
Napoli would likely be an excellent fit in Fenway Park, but if he's not going to hold up the Sox can't be careless with their offer. It's unfortunate that the team has had to deal with this long saga in the first place--better Napoli's hip be a perfect picture of health--but it's certainly better than signing a guy for $39 million dollars and then having him spend half of his contract on the disabled list with a problem they missed.