Although they added a catcher in David Ross over the weekend, the Boston Red Sox still remain interested in Mike Napoli. Rob Bradford of WEEI suggested in a Monday blog post that Napoli remains on the Red Sox radar, especially given the club’s need for a first baseman. The Red Sox still hold control over catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has been linked to various trade rumours, and 25-year old Ryan Lavarnway as well. Ross inked a two-year $6.2 million deal over the weekend, but is by no means in line to catch on a full-time basis in 2013.
Bradford leans on Napoli’s limited experience at first base as major attraction for the Red Sox, although dreams of a return to his .320/.414/.631 triple-slash line of two seasons ago makes for quite the Green Monster porn. Napoli made 28 appearances at first base in 2012, as well as number of starts as the Rangers DH, but is reportedly interested in a team that will use him primarily behind the plate. Ross has appeared in 54, 59, 52 and 62 games in his four seasons with the Atlanta Braves, but provides strong defensive prowess and an adequate bat from the catcher position.
A potential Napoli/Ross tandem with the former pencilled into some sort of time share at first base could allow the Red Sox to carry a third catcher, more likely Lavarnway, and pursue a trade for Saltalamacchia. Marc Normandin has a great piece on the catcher market and where the Red Sox may fit in at Over the Monster.
Really, though, we’re just spitballin’ here. Both Napoli and Ross’ names popped up in an ESPN Insider piece from Keith Law in which he designates both as ‘part-time options’. At 36, and without eclipsing 200 plate appearances in five seasons, Ross can hardly be expected to shoulder the bulk of the load behind the plate. Napoli’s health remains a question mark, having played through nagging leg issues for periods last season, which could temper any expectations of him assuming an everyday role.
Whatever the case, Bradford’s insinuation that the Red Sox remain in pursuit of Napoli serves as an indicator that despite last summer’s house cleaning, Ben Cherington and co. will be in on many an attractive free agent options.