By now all of Red Sox Nation is well aware that first basemen Mike Napoli wants to return to the Boston Red Sox. According to multiple reports, re-signing the former catcher to man first base is the Sox top priority this offseason although the two sides don’t appear to be close on a deal just yet. Boston now has more company which could complicate the matter in trying to re-sing the free agent.
The Seattle Mariners have entered the Napoli sweepstakes according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, despite earlier reports that the west coast team was not interested in his services.
Rosenthal admits that earlier this month he wrote off Seattle as a potential landing spot for Napoli but after circling back and confirming with some sources close to the situation, the Mariners are indeed entertaining the idea of pursuing Napoli.
Rosenthal writes that for the Mariners to have a legitimate shot at signing Napoli they may have to overpay the slugging first baseman, something that the Red Sox hope doesn’t happen.
As it stands right now, Napoli is said to be seeking a multi-year deal and it’s believed that the original offer from the Red Sox of 3-years at $39 million could be his asking price.
Given the Mariners struggles to attract high priced free-agents in the past, namely Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton as Rosenthal notes, giving Napoli his asking price and then some might be the only way Seattle can land him. Not an ideal scenario for the Red Sox to say the least given Napoli has already turned down their qualifying offer of one-year, $14 million.
If he truly wants to stay in Boston would Napoli take a 2-year deal worth $28 million or something in that range? Or what if Boston offered that original deal that was mentioned above? Surely that would be enough to bring him back to Fenway for the foreseeable future and with his hip condition under control and not deemed to be an issue, his appeal to Cherington may have increased.
If the Mariners are indeed desperate to rekindle their franchise and try and win back the fan base, then overpaying players like Napoli and other top-end free agents might be the only way they can do it. For the Red Sox, their hand could be forced if they want to have Napoli patrolling first base next year unless they step up to the plate before Seattle or anyone else can sneak in ahead of them.