|Hot Stove: Mike Napoli reportedly seeking four-year deal||11.25.12 at 4:17 pm ET|
According to Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (via twitter), free agent catcher/first baseman/DH Mike Napoli is holding out for a four-year deal from the Red Sox, Rangers or Mariners. Bowden tweeted: Mike Napoli determined to get 4th year…waiting on Red Sox or Rangers to blink (Mariners still in it)
Napoli turned 31 on Halloween, meaning that a four-year deal would cover his age 31-34 seasons. He slumped to a .227 average with a .343 OBP, .469 slugging mark and .812 OPS with 24 homers in 108 games in 2012 with the Rangers, a year in which a leg injury limited him to 108 games (his fewest games played since 2008). For his career, he’s a .259 hitter with a .356, OBP, .507 slugging mark and .863 OPS while averaging 33 homers per 162 games. Among remaining free agents, Napoli has the fourth-highest slugging percentage since 2006 (behind Josh Hamilton, Jim Thome and Lance Berkman) and fifth-highest OPS (behind the same three as well as Kevin Youkilis).
The Sox’ interest in Napoli is primarily as a first baseman and a fallback DH option for for David Ortiz. His appeal to the Red Sox as a free agent was augmented by the fact that he was not given a qualifying offer by the Rangers, meaning that another team will not have to sacrifice a draft pick if it signs the free agent. That gives Napoli one advantage in the market over first baseman Adam LaRoche, who is coming off a stronger 2012 season but who did receive a qualifying offer from the Nationals. While the Red Sox have a protected first-round draft pick in 2013, the team is still reluctant to part with its second-round pick.
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