So, uhm, the Red Sox apparently finalized their deal with C/1B Mike Napoli, though not for anywhere near the original 3-year, $39 million commitment they agreed to over a month ago. In fact, not even remotely close. The signing is instead for just one year, for a measly (in baseball terms) $5 million sum. I try not to get overly attached to Rangers who inevitably become ex-Rangers, but I can’t help feeling bad for Napoli and the poor, poor condition of his hip that drove down his value so far. It’s also sheds light on just how bad his hip must be, and why the Rangers held such a stringent disinclination in bringing him back. All told, if Napoli reaches all his incentives, the deal is believed to be worth $13 million. So there’s that.
Boston immediately drew its line in the sand with Napoli at the start of the offseason, clearly making him their #1 priority and quickly signing him as if a peremptory issue. The Rangers, on the other hand, maintained their own agenda, choosing not to dish out a $13.3 million qualifying offer, and making their purported final offer at 2 years and $20 million, with an option for 2015.
In this veritable chess match of an offseason, the Rangers have found themselves in stalemates on a number of fronts. First with Josh Hamilton (before he signed with the Angels), currently with Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse (whom they’ve been linked to), and all the while with Arizona’s GM, Kevin Towers, for the right to acquire stud outfielder Justin Upton. Much time still remains in the game, but time keeps ticking … ticking … ticking — before we reach checkmate.
I imagine the first reaction from a casual Rangers fan would be, “Wait, $5 million? That’s all it took? Why didn’t Texas try harder if he could be had for that cheap?”
Well, reports indicate they actually did try, and that they offered more money than Boston. The difference was, according to Napoli, that he had a “more defined role” with the Red Sox. Rarely do you see athletes accepting less money in favor of a better “role,” but I can understand where Mike is coming from. In Texas, he would be competing for at bats at first base with Mitch Moreland, at catcher with A.J. Pierzynski, and at DH with Lance Berkman. Having signed for only one year in Boston, he (logically) figures more starts equal more at bats, and the more at bats, the better chance he has at improving his stock before reentering the free agent market after the 2013 season. To that end, it makes a ton of sense.
Still, the part of me that has a heart (as tiny as it may be) wishes Napoli would have been back with the club in 2013. He set the world on fire in 2011, so, if he was to make a strong attempt at rekindling the flames to reestablish his worth, I would have liked it to have been here.
But so it goes. That ship has sailed.