Back on December 3rd, the Red Sox agreed to sign Mike Napoli for a three year, $39 million dollar contract. Here we are alomst a month and a half later and there has been no contract finalized after a requisite physical gave the Red Sox cause for concern. Napoli is no stranger to injury, and it looks like his recurring hip injuries have scared the Red Sox.
It has been reported HERE by Pete Abraham that the Red Sox have now changed their plans and want to give Napoli a gauranteed one year deal. Doing this puts the pressure on Napoli to give them the plate appearances they expect, otherwise he could find himself a free agent again.
On the other hand, if I am Ben Cherington do not want to give a player a handsome three year deal that involves a lot of risk to it. Clearly, they saw something in his test results that are not pretty. It's rebuilding time, and you can't expect optimum results on a high priced player with warning signs on a long term deal. Maybe he isn't sweating yet because the Red Sox also went through this already back in 2007.
(In Photo: JD Drew)It took the Red Sox 52 days to finalize a five year, $70 million dollar deal with JD Drew. They waited it out and eventually got the contract they wanted forcing him to agree to a deal that enabled them to void the contract after three years if Drew were to re-injure his shoulder. Maybe this is the route they will go again.
This scenario has "sneak attack" written all over it. The first basemen market is extremely thin now that Adam LaRoche has signed with the Nationals. Other players available are Carlos Lee, Aubrey Huff, Lyle Overbay and Casey Kotchman, and these guys don't have the same bat power. If Napoli is upset enough to test the waters elsewhere some other team could swoon him away, but it is very unlikely he will get the three year deal and money that was originally offered to him.
I am sure the Yankees are keeping close tabs on this one. Napoli's value has clearly been diminished, and if the Yankees want to continue giving out one year deals, it's not unreasonable to think that they could come in and pull off another big steal. If Napoli is willing then it really poses no risk.
Stay tuned....this could get very interesting. Of course, if anything else develops we will definitely let you know here at Bleeding Yankee Blue.
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