The deadline for free-agents to accept the qualifying offer they received from their respective teams has come and gone and now Mike Napoli can explore any and all options that may come his way.
The Boston Red Sox want him back and the interest is said to be mutual. But now the stakes have gone up thanks to the slugging first baseman turning down the one-year, $14 MM offer that ties him to a draft pick if he leaves to sign elsewhere.
The options at first base are limited this off-season as Conor noted over the weekend, easily making Napoli the most attractive free-agent. Now the Red Sox will have to up their anti if they wish to keep the former catcher and the question becomes, how many years and at what value should they offer Napoli?
It is believed that Napoli could garner his original 3-year deal that Boston had offered him last winter, prior to his hip condition being discovered. After staying relatively healthy last season, albeit while playing first base as opposed to catcher, the 32-year old can now demand multiple years and will surely receive an offer for it.
The Red Sox lack depth at first base in their minor league system and given the love affair that Boston and Napoli have for one another, extending a 3-year deal with an average salary of $13 MM or even $14 MM could be worth it for both parties.
GM Ben Cherington is kicking the tires on many of the big name free-agents including Carlos Beltran. The thought process of signing Beltran then having Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava platoon at first has been discussed but it’s been made public that the soon to be 37-year old wants a three of four year deal. Suddenly giving Napoli those terms at the age of 32 compared to Beltran is awfully enticing.
Napoli does strike out a lot but he also comes up with clutch hits and plays superb defense at first base. Not to mention he’s a core in the clubhouse that helped improve a depleted atmosphere from just one season ago. His health, which is always of concern, will likely be brushed aside when it comes to locking him up for multiple years, a risky move by any club that lands the former LA Angels draft pick.
What do you the readers think the Red Sox should offer Mike Napoli in terms of a contract? Do they offer three, maybe four years and secure his services at first base for the future? Or do they stick to a two-year offer and risk losing him all together?
Take part in our daily poll and let’s see what the results turn out to be.