The Boston Red Sox have signed Mike Napoli to a three-year contract, pending a physical. Napoli, it is expected, will see time at catcher, first base, and DH for the Red Sox. Rob Bradford of WEEI was the first to tweet the news of the impending deal.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that Napoli’s deal is worth $39 million.
Given the Red Sox divorce of Adrian Gonzalez last season and stop-gap first baseman James Loney heading to Tampa Bay, Napoli could see the bulk of his playing time come at first. The Red Sox recently signed David Ross to serve as the backup catcher which, presuming Jarrod Saltalamacchia remains in the picture, would give them three catchers on the Major League roster. The club holds control over Saltalamacchia, but he has been rumoured as potential trade bait. Regardless, it’s Napoli’s bat that the Red Sox coveted, not his defensive prowess. Napoli will play everyday, that much we know, where he plays remains to be seen.
Napoli felt the reality of regression in 2012 as his .320/.414/.631 batting line from 2011 fell drastically to .227/.343/.469. Still, he managed 24 home runs last season compared to 30 from his outstanding 2011 performance. Strikeouts hurt Napoli quite a bit in 2012 as he went down swinging on a career-worst 30% of his plate appearances. His plate discipline percentages remained relatively similar to the data drawn from his big year, so there’s certainly room for optimism that Napoli’s production can meet somewhere in the middle. Oh, and there’s that toy baseball park in Boston too.
Napoli has record for righthanded opponent at fenway with 1.107 ops #redsox
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 3, 2012
Napoli, at 31, on a three-year deal with a $13 million AAV is pretty good work for the Red Sox. It’s moderately surprising that they didn’t have to go beyond three years to land him. Expect Napoli to provide nightmare fuel for the plethora of soft-tossing left-handed pitchers scattered around the A.L. East next season.