The rumors have been buzzing since Boston offered Mike Napoli a three-year, $39 million deal two weeks ago. Since then no introduction or team jersey has been forthcoming. Things got quiet – uncomfortably quiet. Napoli’s agent was mum and Ben Cherington said that Boston management was “not in a position to talk” about Napoli’s contract negotiations.
Today the Dallas Morning News hinted at what many of the whispers have been saying – that Napoli had an issue with his physical last week. That report is not yet confirmed but the smart money is on just that as the two parties head back to the negotiation table with Boston most likely looking for fewer years to reduce their exposure. Sources close to the action told The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo that the team was concerned about Napoli’s hip or leg, possibly both.
Meanwhile MassLive.com is reporting that the deal is falling apart. Boston is playing hardball this year after getting burned in the Carl Crawford and John Lackey deals. Can you blame them? The new Cherington regime is taking a much closer look before opening the checkbook. Applause all the way around on that point.
Expect the Napoli yea or nay negotiation to happen quickly since few even marginal first basemen are left to fill the void if he’s not signed. If Boston walks away from the Napoli deal look for them to go hard after Nick Swisher, who is healthy, will command more money than he’s worth and Boston will probably pay it at this point.
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