Breakfast Links: Mike Napoli, J.J. Hardy, Scott Hairston

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Your morning recap of all things Thursday.

Happy almost weekend, everybody.

Here's your morning fix of yesterday's top baseball stories:

The Big Three

1. Boston finally came to terms with Mike Napoli yesterday, a move that should have come with a collective sigh of relief for Red Sox Nation. That the renegotiated deal is for just one year and $5 million guaranteed, however, more likely left Sox fans with an unrelenting sense of impending doom. Napoli has not once gone to the disabled list for a hip problem, but his test results were so disconcerting that they took two years and $34 million off of the original agreement. For that level of concern, I expect an alien to burst out of Napoli's hip any day now. At first base, no one can hear you scream.

2. The Baltimore Orioles' considerations of trading shortstop J.J. Hardy are very "real," but have slowed some since manager Buck Showalter expressed disconcern at the possibility last week. The club is looking for a starting pitcher or impact bat in return for Hardy, of which the former is probably more likely. A swap of Tigers' right-hander Rick Porcello for the shortstop seems to make some sense for both clubs, though any move would leave the O's in need of a new third baseman (youngster Manny Machado would likely shift to short).

3. The New York Mets and free-agent outfielder Scott Hairston are continuing their courtship, but encountered their first public squabble of the winter yesterday. Hairston asked the Mets for a two-year, $8 million deal but the club rebuked him, countering with a one-year, $2 million offer of their own. The Mets have had their share of bad relationships lately -- they have lots of baggage -- so Hairston should tread lightly or risk New York cutting ties with him entirely.

Other News

- Provisional rosters for the World Baseball Classic were announced, making the two-month wait until real baseball starts almost even more unbearable.

- Darren Oliver formally announced his return to the Blue Jays, simultaneously putting his agent in the dog house.

- The Houston Astros signed Rick Ankiel to a minor-league deal. No word on whether he's intending to hit or pitch for the club, but he'd probably slot in nicely as a No. 5 hitter or No. 3 starter, whichever he chooses (because the Astros suck, you guys).

Extras

- A lawyer read Bilbo's contract and gives it a serious legal critique. Legalese ensues.

- The outrageous 5-year rise in college sports spending

- This awesome time-lapse video.

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