Mike Napoli Rumors
If David Price isn't traded, "almost every baseball person one talks to mentions the Rays as the team to beat in the American League," Peter Gammons writes in his latest piece for his Gammons Daily website. Price has stayed in the fold despite multiple trade rumors this winter, with the Rays instead adding roster depth instead of moving another cornerstone player for prospects. The depth and continuity carrying over from 2013 is a big factor for Evan Longoria, who notes that "for the first time since I’ve been here, we have almost everyone back. We have a team that is going to play together two years in a row.”
Here's some more from around the AL East...
- The Rays' "laid back environment" was a key reason why Mark Lowe chose to sign a minor league deal with the club, MLB.com's Bill Chastain reports. Lowe notes that his choice came down to the Rays and Indians this winter, as those were the two clubs who "pushed the hardest" for his services. Tampa manager Joe Maddon said that the Rays originally tried to sign Lowe during the 2012-13 offseason.
- Jhonny Peralta said the Yankees offered him a three-year contract and the opportunity to play third base, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). The Yankees were Peralta's preferred Big Apple team since the Mets only offered him a two-year deal that Peralta described as "not really good." Of course, Peralta overcame the stigma of his 50-game PED suspension last season to sign a four-year, $53MM contract with the Cardinals as their everyday shortstop.
- Mike Napoli rejected a qualifying offer from the Red Sox last fall and the slugger felt the draft pick compensation limited his free agent options, Napoli tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “It’s tough because it’s kind of holding you back,” Napoli said. “You get (to free agency) and it should be all the teams that want you. The way it is now, if a team doesn’t want to give up a pick, they’re not going to be interested.” It ended up being something of a moot point for Napoli, as he openly wanted to return to Boston and re-signed for a two-year, $32MM deal.
- There isn't any new news about David Ortiz's contract talks with the Red Sox, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. The two sides apparently haven't had any further negotiations since their initial meetings two weeks ago. (Cafardo shared some more items about the AL East in his regular Sunday column, as reported earlier.)
- Quintin Berry talks to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford about why he signed with the Orioles and how he appreciated his time with the Red Sox last season, though the Sox didn't push too hard to re-sign him. “Supposedly [they tried] a little bit, but I know they had a couple of things in mind they wanted to do, some guys they wanted to try and give experience to,” Berry said. “So I just wanted to test the market and see what else I could do." Berry signed a minor league deal with the O's in January.
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.
DEC. 12: Napoli will receive $16MM in each year of the deal and has a limited no-trade clause, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
DEC. 6: The Red Sox have agreed to terms with Mike Napoli, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports (Twitter link). The contract is a two-year deal worth $32MM, according to CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam (via Twitter). The slugger confirmed his return on his own Twitter feed, saying "The beard is coming back to Boston!!!" Napoli is represented by Brian Grieper.
Napoli's contact falls short of the three-year, $42MM deal that MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted he would receive this winter, though obviously Napoli's clear desire to remain with the World Series champions impacted his decision. Counting his $13MM salary from 2013 (in both base salary and incentives), Napoli will end up receiving $45MM between 2013-15 --- well above the $39MM he was originally set to earn from Boston before he was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both of his hips, which caused the Sox to pull their multiyear offer and extend just the one-year pact.
The 32-year-old silenced all questions about his health by hitting .259/.360/.482 with 23 homers in 578 PA for the Sox last season, also posting big numbers in the ALCS during Boston's championship run. Napoli turned down a one-year, $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Red Sox earlier this winter and thus would've netted the club a compensation draft pick had he signed elsewhere, but now the club will have its starting first baseman back in the fold after already losing Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in free agency this offseason.
Earlier today, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that Napoli had received an offer from another club but his preference was to remain in Boston. The Marlins, Rangers, and Mariners were all rumored to be interested in Napoli's services. Texas was believed to have made Napoli a larger offer, Bradford and Alex Speier report, though sources later told them that the Rangers never made a formal offer. Napoli also turned down at least one three-year offer, according to Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith, but Napoli preferred to remain with the Sox and accepted their smaller deal.
Photo courtesy of Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports Images
We rounded up several Orioles rumors from Orlando right here, but the O's aren't the only AL East team making news. Let's check in on a few more items related to Baltimore's division rivals....
- Rays GM Andrew Friedman says he made some progress in talks today, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Topkin suggests the Rays have been meeting more with other teams than with agents.
- Friedman added that nothing is imminent for the Rays when it comes to the club's pursuit of a first baseman, tweets Topkin.
- A Red Sox source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter link) that the team's discussions for Matt Kemp haven't reached the serious stage, and are unlikely to do so.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (Twitter links), that the Sox need "two guys to play shortstop" and that a handful of teams have inquired on Boston's starting pitching surplus. The club doesn't appear inclined to move a starter at this point though.
- The Red Sox are among one of three or four teams with some interest in Carlos Marmol, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, who cites the Brewers as another possible suitor (Twitter link).
- Mike Napoli's new two-year contract with the Red Sox includes a limited no-trade clause, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
- The Blue Jays are nearing an agreement to sell Thad Weber's rights to the NC Dinos in South Korea, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). Once the deal is finalized, it will reduce the Jays' 40-man roster count to 39 players.
Robinson Cano's blockbuster contract with the Mariners has generated the most headlines, but on another wild day of free agency, there's plenty of more news to go around. Here are some stray items about three of Friday's other major signings --- Curtis Granderson's four-year deal with the Mets, Carlos Beltran's three-year deal with the Yankees and Mike Napoli re-signing with the Red Sox for two years.
- The fourth year seemed to be the sticking point between Granderson and the Mets, but GM Sandy Alderson made the decision on Thursday night to offer the extra year and received approval from ownership, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (all Twitter links).
- Granderson gives the Mets a much-needed outfield bat, ESPN's Keith Law writes, though with Granderson already showing signs of decline, Law figures the Mets are only really counting on him to produce in the first two years of his deal. 2015 could be the key year, as it appears the Mets are looking to contend once Matt Harvey is back from Tommy John surgery.
- Also from Law, he thinks Beltran improves the Yankees lineup but it's a risky three-year commitment to a player entering his age-37 season. An ESPN Insider subscription is required to read Law's pieces.
- The Royals were rumored to have been the mystery team who made Beltran a three-year, $48MM offer earlier this week but a source tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that those rumors were "not accurate." Kansas City's trade for Norichika Aoki on Thursday seemed to be a sign that they had moved on from the Beltran sweepstakes.
- That larger offer could have come from the Diamondbacks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the D'Backs offered Beltran a three-year deal worth more than the $45MM he received from New York. The signing would have boosted Arizona's payroll, and Piecoro wonders if the Snakes are willing to surpass the $100MM-payroll threshold to fill their needs this winter, or if they were just focused on Beltran in particular.
- Several members of the Red Sox roster urged the front office to up its offer to Napoli from two years/$30MM, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports. The players were responding to a rumor that the Rangers had made an offer "too good for Napoli to refuse," and the Sox indeed upped their offer to $32MM. The raise and the support from his teammates was enough to sway Napoli, who was already preferring to stay in Boston anyway.
- The Rangers actually never made a formal offer to Napoli, one source told Bradford.
11:24am: Napoli's market is picking up, and the Mariners, Marlins, Rangers and Red Sox are all involved, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi adds that the Mariners have had "recent" talks with Napoli.
10:57am: Mike Napoli's free agent negotiations are at a critical stage, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He says Napoli wants to remain with the Red Sox, but he has an offer from another club that Boston will need to match or exceed. Earlier, Rosenthal tweeted that the Rangers and Marlins are in on Napoli, who remains a priority for the Red Sox. The Rangers are interested even after acquiring Prince Fielder, which is seemingly made possible by the designated hitter spot.
Napoli was one of 13 players to receive a qualifying offer in November, so signing him will require forfeiture of a draft pick for teams other than the Red Sox. The 32-year-old switched to first base full-time in 2013 for Boston, hitting .259/.360/.482 in 578 plate appearances and playing in the postseason for the sixth time in eight seasons. Last offseason, Napoli's three-year, $39MM deal with the Red Sox was renegotiated down to a one-year, $5MM guarantee after his physical revealed a degenerative hip condition. With Curtis Granderson receiving four guaranteed years today from the Mets, I think Napoli has a good case for the same.
While we try and catch our breath from an insanely busy day here at MLBTradeRumors, let's take a glance at the latest out of the AL and NL Central..
- Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that Carlos Beltran still isn't close on a deal with anyone. Earlier today, we heard that Beltran had already received an offer of three years and $48MM from the Royals.
- Free agent Corey Hart has been cleared for baseball activities, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (via Twitter). The first baseman/outfielder missed all of 2013 with the Brewers thanks to knee injuries.
- Paul Konerko will tell the White Sox if he intends to play in 2014 before the Winter Meetings begin December 9th, a source tells Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com (on Twitter).
- At today's introductory press conference for Ricky Nolasco, Twins GM Terry Ryan confirmed that the club isn't done free agent shopping, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
- The Pirates view Mike Napoli as the perfect fit at first base but it still doesn't appear they will lay out the cash needed to sign him, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
The Red Sox are still waiting for free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to decide whether to accept Boston's free agent offers, but they're nearing the point when they might move forward, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. The Red Sox haven't set deadlines for any of their free agents to accept offers, but a source tells Bradford that the Sox are "certainly working on other options, also." The Red Sox told at least one player that they would soon need to make plans to potentially acquire another player to take his place.
Ellsbury, Napoli and Drew all rejected qualifying offers from Boston, and the Red Sox have since made new offers to all three players. Saltalamacchia did not receive a qualifying offer, but the Red Sox did offer him a two-year deal at an annual amount below the $14.1MM qualifying offer figure.
The Marlins have discussed Mike Napoli and could get involved at the right price, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Napoli signing with Miami isn't likely if he has better options (link), but he's a South Florida native and he is good friends with Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis.
We recently heard that the Marlins were interested in free agent catcher Dioner Navarro (as well as pitcher Phil Hughes), but Napoli represents a much more ambitious target for Miami. While a big-name free agent like Napoli being connected to the Marlins will clearly be met with skepticism (and rightfully so), it's worth pointing out that they were very much in the mix for Jose Dariel Abreu before he signed with the White Sox. That pursuit, at the very least, indicates that the Fish may have some willingness to spend on a first baseman to pair with Giancarlo Stanton in the middle of their lineup.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that the Rays have some interest in Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland, who could be deemed expendable in the wake of Texas' acquisition of Prince Fielder. The Rangers, of course, covet David Price, and including Moreland in a package for him (presumably as a somewhat minor component) could take a potential destination away from the Mets in their shopping of Ike Davis. Here's more out of the AL East...
- Within that same piece, Martino writes that the Fielder-Ian Kinsler swap may not impact the Robinson Cano market as much as many initially thought. Cano is markedly better than Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar, so if he wants to be a Ranger or Tiger and the price isn't crazy, those players shouldn't preclude Texas or Detroit from striking a deal.
- The Red Sox seem to be letting Mike Napoli's market develop before deciding what their final offer to him will be, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald spoke with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington who told him that the team is "in a position to be a little choosy, a little selective" in its search for a new catcher. Cherington says the Sox are interested in a "small handful of free agents" and has also actively pursued trades at catcher.
- On Brian McCann's recent five-year contract with the Yankees, Boston catcher and close friend of McCann, David Ross, told Lauber: "He told me, I think it came down to years. When you add an option for six, it puts you at almost $100 (million), that’s a game-changer." Cherington wouldn't indicate to Lauber how far the Red Sox were willing to go in negotiations.
- Mark Ellis is considered an option for the Orioles, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, but Baltimore has yet to reach out to the second baseman.
- Kubatko also reports that the Orioles don't have any immediate interest in first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones, who was designated for assignment by the Pirates yesterday.
- One more from Kubatko, who reported last week that the Orioles won't look to re-sign left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who never appeared with the O's after signing a two-year deal prior to the 2012 season. Wada fell victim to Tommy John surgery and didn't make it to the big league level in Baltimore. Executive vice president Dan Duquette told Kubatko: "I think that the Wada chapter is over with the Orioles. We're just going in another direction ... I'm sorry that it didn't work out, but it's time to move on."