When word broke on the morning of the Winter Meetings' first day that the Boston Red Sox had come to an agreement with free-agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli, neither side probably imagined they would be re-negotiating the deal at Christmas time.
While no one from either camp has officially come out to say that the results of Napoli's physical are the hold up in negotiations, it appears that a problem with Napoli's hip may be the cause, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
Napoli, sources say, has a problem with one of his hips – a problem that led the Seattle Mariners to back off their pursuit of him, as reported by Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio and confirmed by a source, and also may have concerned his previous team, the Texas Rangers.
The Red Sox, in the words of general manager Ben Cherington, are "working through some issues" in trying to finalize Napoli’s deal.
As best as anyone can tell, that means that problems surfaced during Napoli’s physical, and the Red Sox are trying to rework his contract.
The Red Sox's original agreement with Napoli was a three-year, $39 million deal that would have given the veteran slugger the starting gig at first base in Boston. If there really is a problem with Napoli's hip, the Red Sox may want to make an addendum to the agreement that protects them in the case that a pre-existing injury sidelines the slugger for a prolonged period of time, much like they did with outfielder J.D. Drew before they finalized his five-year deal back in 2007.
Though it took 52 days to finalize a deal, Drew ended up having no problems with his shoulder during his tenure in Boston and the Red Sox have to hope that the same will be true for Napoli. The 31-year-old slugger is currently at day 18 and counting.