Mike Napoli Update: Red Sox 'Hold All the Cards'

Jeff Gross

The Red Sox negotiations with Mike Napoli have taken a turn for the worse following the medical review, but all signs still point to the deal getting done.

The ongoing saga of the Boston Red Sox and Mike Napoli has been one the more interesting stories this off-season. Boston was aggressive in pursuing the free agent catcher/first baseman and nearly a month ago it appeared that they had landed him with a three-year/$39M deal.

Then the standard medical review showed issues with his hip and the Red Sox asked for language to be included in the contract to protect them should this issue cost him time. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, Napoli is likely to accept the Red Sox terms here as they "seem to hold all the cards."

With the information about the hip issue out there, Cafardo believes Napoli will be forced to take a one-year deal or accept the Rangers two-year offer if he walks away from the Red Sox deal.

Such clauses are something the Red Sox have secured regularly in the past, including clauses in Jason Bay's deal concerning his knees and in J.D. Drew’s contract concerning his shoulder. The most notable such clause gave Boston an extra year of John Lackey’s services at league minimum if his elbow caused him to miss significant time, which might help soften the blow of losing him for the 2012 season following Tommy John surgery.

If the past is any indication, the Red Sox are not likely to lower their offer, but rather insist on either extra time at a low cost or the ability to opt out of part of the deal should this pre-existing condition result in a major injury.

Cafardo also notes that while Boston is looking at LaRoche, their interest is not strong. The free agent first baseman declined a qualifying offer from Washington and therefore Boston would surrender their second round pick to sign him, something they prefer to avoid. As long as he remains unsigned, however, LaRoche does give the Red Sox leverage in their talks with Napoli.

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