Bringing back one of Boston’s major fan favorites during the 2013 season, the Red Sox announced today that they have re-signed first baseman Mike Napoli to a 2 year/$32 million deal. The Red Sox originally signed Napoli to a 3 year/$39 million deal last offseason but after news of a longterm hip injury surfaced, they downgraded that to a 1 year/$5 million contract with incentives that could push the deal up to 1 year/$13 million. Napoli stayed healthy throughout the year and cashed in on all the incentives, and with the 2 years and $32 million he signed for today, he will actually make more money this way.
This raise is certainly warranted for Napoli, as he provided a key power bat in the middle of the lineup for the Red Sox last year. Napoli slashed .259/.360/.482 with 23 home runs along with surprisingly good defense in his first season as a full time first baseman.
However, Napoli certainly has his flaws and at $16 million per year, those could be magnified a bit. In 2013, Napoli struck out 32.4% of the time, a career high for a guy who has always been a notorious swing and miss player. Napoli’s batting average was also augmented by an unsustainable .367 BABIP, well higher than his career rate of .310.
Napoli is a streaky hitter known for his valleys and peaks, and that likely will not change. However, as long as he continues to be a productive player, this should be a good move. The average annual value is a bit high, but it won’t hurt too much at just two years. Most importantly, this move signifies that the Red Sox are essentially finished this offseason. With no major holes and very little money to play with, you’re basically looking at the 2014 Red Sox.