Last week, the Red Sox agreed to terms with Mike Napoli on a fresh two-year deal that will reportedly pay him $16MM per season. Of course, the veteran slugger had plenty of suitors, and one was said to have given him a three-year offer. I asked Napoli if a three-year deal was floated to him by another club and while he declined to give details, he said that the market for him was quite robust.
"There were a lot of teams actually," the 32-year-old said on this afternoon's conference call. "I'm not going to give any specifics but it ultimately came down to, I told my agent, I wanted to come back to Boston and play there and get something worked out."
This year's go-round through free agency went a whole lot smoother for Napoli than it did last year. After initially agreeing to a three-year, $39MM guarantee with the Red Sox, Napoli's physical revealed that he has avascular necrosis (AVN) in both hips. As a result, his contract was renegotiated down to a one-year, $5MM deal with $8MM of incentives (which he reached). I asked Mike if he was glad to have a simpler path to a new contract this offseason, one that has everything tied up neatly in advance of Christmas.
"After going through what I went through last year, it was definitely a relief to just go through this and it was fairly easier than last year and ultimately I'm happy to be back and I wanted to be someplace where its comfortable and somewhere where we can win," Napoli said.
The re-working of Napoli's deal last winter to adjust the terms and add language regarding his hip condition took about two months to get done. This time around, GM Ben Cherington says that there was no need to hash out any conditions regarding the hip issue.
"It's a two year guaranteed deal, I won't get into the specific language and details but there's no special coverage or anything like that related to the hip. Mike is healthy and we're thrilled that he's going to be a big part of our club for the next couple of years and beyond," said Cherington.
While Napoli's deal is official, Red Sox fans are wondering about the long-term future of franchise cornerstone David Ortiz. Cherington opted not to discuss Big Papi at length after he disclosed that he is seeking an extension to take him beyond the 2014 season. Before steering the focus back to Napoli, however, Cherington reiterated his desire to see Ortiz finish his career in Boston.