The Red Sox have re-signed first baseman Mike Napoli to a two-year, $32 million deal.
At $32 million, Napoli is coming in at $3 million more per year than the original three-year, $39 million deal the Red Sox nearly signed him to last offseason. That's the price the team pays for one year of reassurance that Napoli can continue to play despite the avascular necrosis of the hip he's dealing with.
That being said, it could have been more. Napoli is said to have turned down a bigger deal from the Texas Rangers in order to stay in Boston. If Napoli needed any more endearment with a fanbase that seems to have fallen in love with him over the course of September and October, well, that'll get the job done.
Still, at $32 million Napoli is far from cheap, and no sure thing. His power was not as over-the-top as many were hoping it would be in Fenway, and while the wall in left may explain away some of the inflated BABIP, there is certainly reason to wonder whether or not Napoli will be able to replicate his 2013 performance at the plate and in the field, where he ranked among the best first basemen in the league despite coming in as a questionable defender at best.
For all that, though, Boston's options were limited, and getting Napoli back on a two-year deal means that, even if the deal goes south, it will not have much long-term impact. For now, it pushes the Sox pretty close to the Collective Bargaining Tax threshold, meaning they'll have to find some way to free up money or be willing to go over that limit if they want to make any more significant financial moves.
And really, when we're talking about the beard, how much does the rest of that matter?