Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The Red Sox initially agreed to a 3-year, $39 million deal with Napoli, but the discovery of a rare hip condition during his physical complicated matters. Napoli ultimately agreed to a one-year deal with incentives that could reach the $13 million he was originally expected to be paid, with the understanding that if he remained healthy and productive then he would be extended for the other two years of the original agreement.
Napoli’s hip condition proved to be no issue in 2013. While the former catcher was no longer able to spend time behind the plate, he completed a smooth transition to being a full-time first baseman. Napoli hit .259/.360/.482 with 23 home runs and 92 RBI in his first season with the Red Sox, easily living up to the value of that one-year deal.
2013 saw the Red Sox deliver another championship, which Napoli played a significant role in. He blasted a pair of home runs in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, including one in Game 3 against Justin Verlander that proved to be the only run of the game in Boston’s 1-0 victory.
After proving himself on his one-year deal, the Red Sox rewarded Napoli with a 2-year, $32 million deal, ultimately earning him more money than his original three-year deal would have been worth. This second contract didn’t turn out nearly as well, as injuries limited Napoli to 119 games in 2014, while his OPS fell from .842 to .789. His production fell off a cliff the following year when Napoli hit a mere .207 in 98 games before being shipped to Texas before the trade deadline.
Over the three years Napoli spent in Boston, he really only had one good year. If we look at only that initial one-year deal the Red Sox gave him in 2013, he turned out to be a great free agent find. Given his contributions to a World Series title, that more than makes up for the dwindling production over the next year and a half. In the end it was worth it to have a shirtless Mike Napoli stumbling around the streets of Boston in search of the next spot where he could celebrate being a champion.
Next: Shane Victorino