Source: Red Sox, Napoli strike deal

The Boston Red Sox on Monday agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with free agent first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli, a baseball source with direct knowledge of the negotiations told ESPNDallas.com.

Napoli, who visited Boston late last month, is expected to play primarily at first base for the Red Sox. He was identified early on as a logical target to fill the Sox's needs at first and gives the club another option behind the plate, if general manager Ben Cherington elects to shop Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the winter meetings.

WEEI.com earlier reported that Boston and Napoli were close to an agreement.

Napoli has never played more than 70 games at first base, which he did in 2010, when the Angels' Kendrys Morales fractured his leg in a freak accident and Napoli was pressed into duty as a replacement. This past season, he caught 72 games for the Rangers, but the most he has caught in his career is 96 games (2009), and at age 31, he might be receptive to making a more permanent position switch to first base.

"I just want to play," Napoli recently told ESPNDallas.com. "I feel the most comfortable behind the plate because that's where most of my reps have been. Do I think I can be good at first base if I had reps and practiced it all the time? Yes. But it's not like I'm saying I have to be a catcher. I just want to be in the lineup and play. If it helps at catcher, I'll catch, or at first base, I'll play there. But I like catching. I look at myself as catcher."

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