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Red Sox agree to two-year, $32 million deal with Mike Napoli

12.06.13 at 9:10 pm ET
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According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox have agreed to re-sign first baseman Mike Napoli, bringing the 32-year-old back on a two-year, $32 million deal. It is believed that the Red Sox did not have the best offer to the free agent — the Rangers were thought to have a larger contract on the table — but that the first baseman decided that he wanted wanted to return to the team and city where he thrived in 2013.

Napoli originally agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox last December. However, the pre-signing physical revealed a degenerative hip condition (avascular necrosis) that resulted in the contract being renegotiated as a one-year, $5 million deal that ended up bumping up to $13 million when Napoli maxed out his $8 million in playing time incentives by remaining off the DL all year. An end-of-year physical showed that his hips hadn’t deteriorated over the course of the year, putting him in position for a multi-year deal this offseason.

And on the field, Napoli did a number of things in 2013 to put himself in position to seek a substantial contract: He remained healthy, played the second most games of his career (139) and he went from being a bat-first catcher whose defensive skills were in question to a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman. Offensively, he went from a down year in 2012 (.227 with a .343 OBP and .469 slugging mark and 113 OPS+) to one very much in line with his career line in 2013 (.259/.360/.482 with a 127 OPS+).

There are still concerns in some places about the long-term risks associated with his hip condition. But given that the medical issue remained stable in 2013, it went from a dramatic uncertainty to a somewhat more normal/typical injury concern that accompanies most free agents. All of that explains why the free agent felt that it was reasonable to seek a deal that was at least comparable to the one he initially secured from the Red Sox last winter.

Yet while Napoli is believed to have had at least one three-year offer in hand, he ultimately elected to return to a city and team where he (and his imposing beard) seemed very much at home throughout 2013. And while the willingness to take a shorter term was noteworthy, this actually represents (presuming that it becomes finalized) the first multi-year contract of Napoli’s career.

Napoli celebrated with a selfie:

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