Could Mike Morse be Boston's first baseman. August 16, 2011; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Mike Morse (right) gets congratulated by outfielder Jayson Werth (left) after Morse

Napoli Still in Play. Options Dwindling.

This storyline is starting to give me the willies. Today constitutes day 37 since Mike Napoli and the Red Sox tentatively agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal only to have it gummed up presumably due to a physical that revealed an issue with his hip.

The negotiations have dragged on while a number of free agent first baseman have come and gone, most recently the Washington Nationals Adam LaRoche who signed a two-year $24 million guaranteed contract with  $10 million coming in the first year, $12 million in the second and a $2 million mutual buyout option for 2015.

As each domino falls Boston loses more leverage with Napoli, leaving them fewer options. Ben Cherington told MLB.com’s Ian Browne today, “We’ve had dialogue. It’s one of those situations, out of respect to Mike and the process, [where] I’m not going to get into detail. Whenever we’re talking and there’s dialogue, it means we’re hopeful of being able to do something, but we just don’t know yet. We’ll see how it plays out.”

In the meantime, the Red Sox need to continue to hedge their bets. When the LaRoche deal was in question and it looked like he was going to walk, the Nats tapped outfielder Mike Morse (.291/.321/.470/.791) as the man who would move to first base. Now that LaRoche is back in the fold, Boston should continue to talk with Washinton, now about Morse.

“It’s fair to say as you sort of get deeper into the winter, the free agents start to go off the board,” said Cherington. “You can look at trades and other ways to do things. It remains a focus. We’re still hoping we can do something to improve ourselves in that area before we get to Fort Myers.”

With only Mauro Gomez the only player on the Sox roster able to play first base, the pressure is increasing to get a deal done. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. Ben, you’re on the clock.

Here’s why : can’t make a deal with the preacher, oh yeah, yeah
And I can’t make a bargain in heaven, now
- Deal  With The Preacher, Bad Company

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