|Jonny Gomes on M&M: ‘I jumped for joy’ when Mike Napoli agreed to return to Red Sox||12.09.13 at 3:06 pm ET|
Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes checked in with Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about the Red Sox’ busy offseason.
Since the Red Sox won the World Series at the end of the October, they have seen Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia leave as free agents, and they signed reliever Edward Mujica and catcher A.J. Pierzynski and reportedly came to an agreement to retain first baseman Mike Napoli
Gomes said his first season sharing a locker room with Napoli left him with a positive impression of the first baseman.
“I played against this guy for a long time, when he came up as a catcher with Anaheim, then over to Texas,” Gomes said. “I couldn’t really get a good read on him, to tell you the truth. Always focused — whether you’re getting in the box and he’s catching or he’s at first, he wouldn’t talk to you. I was so curious to see what I was going to get out of Mike Napoli when I was sharing a clubhouse with him. I had everything, all doors open. I didn’t want to do anything.
“This guy is truly something else. He is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, one of the best competitors I’ve ever had, his work ethic, everything. They talk about championship-caliber players. That’s truly all he has on his mind. I’ve never seen someone in such a good mood after a tough 0-for-4 if we won. It’s team first, team second, team third for him.
“Hopefully like all the other Sox, I jumped for joy when this guy came back.”
Ellsbury is being viewed by some in Red Sox Nation as a traitor for signing with the rival Yankees, but Gomes said he doesn’t have a problem with Ellsbury signing the contract he received.
“I’m a firm believer in you are deserving of what someone’s going to give you,” Gomes said. “I’m sure a lot of people want to jump on the salary that he got, but no one wants to jump on some of the CEOs of some of these huge companies that make a lot of money, too.
“I played with Joey Votto for a while, and he did some pretty unbelievable things. I would always break it down to him, too: How many people in the world — in the actual world — can do what he can do? How many people in the world can consistently steal 50 bags in the big leagues and play a Gold Glove center field? What’s the price tag on that?
“I’m happy for him. He’s got security for his great, great, great, great, great grandkids. But we’ve got a spot to fill. At the same time, we’ve got the Executive of the Year on our side [in general manager Ben Cherington]. Hopefully we’ll get that spot filled.”
|Mike Napoli vs. Curtis Granderson in an inflationary market||12.06.13 at 3:59 pm ET|
A year ago, Mike Napoli had a three-year, $39 million deal in hand with the Red Sox before the uncertainty generated by his diagnosis with a degenerative hip condition led to the deal’s revision into a one-year, $5 million deal that got pushed up to $13 million with incentives.
But Napoli did a number of things in 2013 to put him in position to seek something along similar lines: 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, 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 in a fast-moving free agent market that has seen a number of landmark contracts already, Napoli’s asking price may be rising by the day. The early movement of Jacoby Ellsbury on a seven-year, $153 million deal to the Yankees and Robinson Cano on a 10-year, $240 million deal to the Mariners has spearheaded a robust market for position players, at a time when teams got a windfall of additional tens of millions — something that appears to be pushing contracts up rather rapidly. Read the rest of this entry »
The Marlins reportedly are close to an agreement with former Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones, putting them in position to trade incumbent Logan Morrison.
The move also would limit the options for Mike Napoli, as the Marlins were said to be one of the teams who had been showing interest in the Red Sox free agent. The Rangers and Red Sox appear to be in the lead for Napoli’s services.
The Marlins on Friday also announced their three-year deal with former Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, worth a reported $21 million.
The departure of Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in free agency raised questions for a number of Red Sox players. According to manager John Farrell, in his appearance on WEEI’s Salk & Holley show, players became curious as to whether the Sox might retain any of the four most prominent free agents — Ellsbury, Saltalamacchia, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew — from their 2013 World Series winner.
Farrell said that he offered a measure of reassurance on that front.
“Because Jacoby and Salty hit the airwaves that they both signed, it was, OK, are we bringing any guys back? That was part of the question. I said, ‘Absolutely, we’re in the works. We’re in the process,’ ” Farrell explained of his conversations with players on Tuesday night, in the aftermath of news of Ellsbury’s deal with the Yankees and Saltalamacchia’s with the Marlins. “That’s where [GM Ben Cherington] is doing the best he can with the two remaining guys, with Mike and Stephen. We’re going to do anything we can to bring both guys back.”
While the Sox would love to bring back Drew given the value they attach to his offensive impact as a left-handed hitter and his up-the-middle defense, there is an obvious in-house alternative at shortstop if he does leave in the form of Xander Bogaerts. First base may be another story.
A number of Sox team officials continue to describe Napoli as the team’s preferred option at first. But whether there will be common ground in re-signing the first baseman remains to be seen.
According to an industry source, with Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson off the board, the pursuit of Napoli is intensifying. And the first baseman, coming off a strong season, hopes to at least match the three-year, $39 million deal (in terms of both length and dollars) to which he initially agreed with the Sox last December, before the diagnosis of avascular necrosis in his hips caused the two sides to renegotiate a one-year, $5 million deal.
The Sox, according to multiple sources, are willing to re-sign Napoli for multiple years based on his performance and ability to remain healthy without showing any further deterioration of his hips in 2013. But at this time, it is unknown whether the team is willing to go beyond two years to sign the free agent. Moreover, with Napoli representing one of the premier power bats on the market, it appears that other teams may be willing to extend beyond two years. As such, while Napoli has made clear his preference to return to the Red Sox, the gap between the Sox’ offer and that of other teams right now appears such that he is exploring alternatives. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of a deal with the Sox, but it does seem apparent that the market for Napoli will achieve definition in the near future given the other dominoes that are falling in the free agent market.
|John Farrell discusses offseason on Salk & Holley: Red Sox ‘jolted’ by Jacoby Ellsbury deal||12.04.13 at 10:47 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell, in an appearance on WEEI’s Salk & Holley show, acknowledged that Red Sox players were “jolted” by the news of Jacoby Ellsbury‘s seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees, particularly given that word of Ellsbury’s signing came on the same day that the Red Sox elected to sign A.J. Pierzynski, thus opening the door for the departure of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Marlins on Tuesday.
Farrell said that he heard from a number of players — he estimated about a half-dozen — who were curious about the developments.
“Because Jacoby and Salty hit the airwaves that they both signed, it was, OK, are we bringing any guys back? That was part of the question,” said Farrell. “I said, ‘Absolutely, we’re in the works. We’re in the process.’ … That’s where [GM Ben Cherington] is doing the best he can with the two remaining guys, with [Mike Napoli] and [Stephen Drew], we’re going to do anything we can to bring both guys back.”
Farrell touched on a number of offseason topics facing the Sox. To listen to the complete interview, click here. Some highlights:
On learning about Ellsbury’s deal: “I did get a text message last night saying, hey, he’s heading in for a physical, it sounds like it’s done. Then the news broke on the numbers and, my gosh, congratulations to Jacoby. We’ll miss him. He’s a very good player, had a great run here, granted, missed some time because of some serious injuries he went through. But he played through a lot last year for us. The foot breaking. The left thumb that was in a lot of pain towards the end of the year. But you know what? He deserved the right to see what his market was, and obviously it’s a big one.”
On the challenge of replacing Ellsbury: “Losing Jacoby Ellsbury, those players don’t come along very often, evident by the contract he got in New York. … To say how much we’ll miss him will be dependent on what we do with the roster before next spring training — whether we stay internal and look at our overall team, what we’re capable of, that’s probably the answer — not specifically one player compared to Jacoby. … Read the rest of this entry »
|Buster Olney on M&M: ‘The reaction around the sport is that [the Yankees] overpaid’ for Jacoby Ellsbury||at 2:09 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday and discussed the Yankees’ reported signing of Jacoby Ellsbury, and other free agents around MLB.
Ellsbury, according to a report by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, signed a seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yankees on Tuesday night.
“I don’t think that the Red Sox were close, based on what I’ve heard. Basically it was communicated to them, ‘Look, we’re talking about numbers in a different ballpark,’ and I think the Red Sox all along thought that there was a good chance that that was going to happen,” Olney said.
Ellsbury’s deal mirrors Carl Crawford‘s contract with Boston in 2011, as the speedy outfielder received a seven-year, $142 million contract from the Red Sox to leave the Rays. This is now known as one of the worst contracts in baseball, considering that Boston traded Crawford after less than two injury-plagued, disappointing seasons.
“I’m sure that the Yankees look at this deal a little bit like they did the [Mark] Teixeira deal where their feeling is, ‘We know at the beginning of the deal we’ll probably get good production, we’ll hope for good production, and at the end of the deal it could get ugly,’ ” Olney said. “The reaction around the sport is that they overpaid.”
New York made its first big splash in the free agent market on Nov. 23 when the team signed catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract.
“When I heard about [the Ellsbury signing] I wasn’t really surprised,” Olney said, adding. “The Yankees brand is about winning and it’s about making the playoffs, it’s about winning the World Series. And so after the struggles they had, especially their offense in 2013, you knew there would be a response.”
|Mike Napoli’s agent Brian Grieper takes stock of client’s free agent foray||11.15.13 at 12:21 pm ET|
Agent Brian Grieper has known Mike Napoli since the first baseman was a bearded high schooler who looked, quite literally, like a men among boys in South Florida. And so, the moments after Napoli became a World Series winner was experienced in terms that went beyond dollars and cents. In the celebration at Fenway Park, Grieper found Napoli — hat backwards, sporting a World Series T-shirt, bottle of champagne in hand — and the two had what Grieper referred to, in an interview on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show on Thursday, as one of the greatest moments he’s had a chance to experience in the nearly 14 years that he’s represented the player.
“I have a picture of him and I and his beard right after the World Series,” said Grieper. “We hugged it out and had a Jerry Maguire moment right there where we both celebrated his World Series championship. It’s always great as an agent, as a fan of the game and a friend to celebrate those kinds of moments with people you truly care about.”
In October, Napoli’s focus was on grasping the World Series trophy that he so nearly grasped with the Rangers but that ultimately, one strike from a championship, eluded him. Now, however, in November, the focus is on the future, rather than the present.
Napoli, for the second straight offseason, is a free agent. This time, however, the conversations that Grieper had with teams during the GM meetings in Orlando this week were different than the ones he had a year ago. A lot has happened to change the market that Napoli is encountering this offseason as opposed to the one he explored a year ago, when he reached an initial three-year, $39 million deal with the Sox that, after a degenerative hip condition was discovered in the physical, was adjusted to a one-year, $5 million pact with incentives that pushed it up to $13 million. Read the rest of this entry »
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