Sources: Mike Napoli, Red Sox agree
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Thursday night that there's nothing official to report on Napoli.
"No, but we're making some progress," he said. "It's fair to say we've made some progress the last day or so. Hopefully we'll have something more formal to say soon, but not tonight."
He added that he thought he'd have something to announce "hopefully soon, but it won't be in the next couple of days."
Napoli and his former team, the Rangers, had reopened talks, and Texas even offered more money than the Red Sox, a source told ESPNDallas.com, but he chose Boston because he'd get a more clearly defined role with more at-bats. With Texas, Napoli would have shared playing time at catcher (A.J. Pierzynski), first base (Mitch Moreland) and designated hitter (Lance Berkman).
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The deal comes more than six weeks after Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston. That deal was taken off the table when Napoli, in the judgment of the team's medical staff, failed his physical because of a hip condition that never had surfaced publicly in his seven previous years in the big leagues, the first five with the Los Angeles Angels and the past two with the Rangers.
Cherington said there has been no animosity between the sides as the negotiations have dragged on.
"I think it's good. I think there will be a time to talk about that more, but we tried and did have a consistent dialogue throughout the winter and a lot of conversations," Cherington said. "But I think there will be a chance to talk about that more hopefully soon."
Even with Napoli on board, the Red Sox figure to be in the market for a left-handed hitting first baseman to complement Napoli and provide insurance in case of injury. Casey Kotchman and Lyle Overbay are free agents who fit that description, though Cherington didn't mention any names.
"We'd like to find someone like that," Cherington said in general terms. "We'll look at some options between now and spring training. If we can't find anything, it may turn into a spring training project and keep looking then. We've got some left-handed options for the outfield but if we can add someone to do that at first base. We did sign Mark Hamilton to a minor league deal, and we may look at other options, too. We'll see what's out there and if we can't find anything before spring training we'll keep looking during spring training."
Napoli was the first player targeted this offseason by the Red Sox, who reached an agreement with the slugger on the first day of baseball's winter meetings in Nashville.
When the deal fell apart, the overhaul of the Red Sox roster that lost 93 games in 2012 was missing a key piece in Napoli, who is expected to fill the void left at first base by the trade of Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers last August.
Napoli, who has played only a handful of games at first base, will be challenged to match Gonzalez's Gold Glove defense and is not a high-average, high on-base percentage hitter. But he is expected to provide a middle-of-the-order power bat from the right side.
The Red Sox view Napoli's swing as an ideal fit in Fenway Park, where he has slugged .710 with a 1.107 OPS, seven home runs and 17 RBIs in 19 games as a visiting player.
Boston is betting that Napoli will come closer to his career-best season of 2011, when he batted .320 with 30 home runs and a 1.046 OPS in his first year in Texas, than to 2012, when he dropped off to .227 with 24 home runs.
Information from ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ben Rogers, ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett and ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald and Gordon Edes was used in this report.