Red Sox re-sign Mike Napoli to 2-year, $32 million deal

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

The Beard returns to Boston.

The Boston Red Sox have agreed to sign first baseman Mike Napoli to a two-year, $32 million contract, in a move first reported by Rob Bradford of WEEI.com and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Rosenthal notes that Napoli took less money to return to Boston, and had at least one larger offer elsewhere. A source says that the Mariners were a strong player up until the end of the bidding, but it is unclear if they are the team who made the bigger offer.

Napoli, 32, expressed throughout the offseason that he wanted to return to Boston, where he won a World Series championship in his first year with the Red Sox. He drew significant interest from the Marlins, Mariners, Rangers and Orioles, but a return to the Red Sox always seemed like the most likely scenario. The team was unwilling to offer him a multi-year deal at the beginning of the offseason, but ultimately became more comfortable with the idea and got a deal done. Rosenthal notes that Napoli took less money to stay with the Red Sox, which makes sense considering how much he loved the city and team last season.

In 139 games for the Sox in 2013, Napoli hit .259 with 23 HR and 92 RBI while proving to be one of the team's heroes and fan favorites throughout the postseason. He is one of four key free agents for Boston this winter, and the first to return after Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Marlins) took their talents elsewhere.

Napoli is the Red Sox' third free agent signing of the week, joining catcher A.J. Pierzynski and reliever Edward Mujica. The team is expected to pursue outfield help at the winter meetings, with free agents Franklin Gutierrez and Carlos Beltran joining trade candidate Matt Kemp as potential solutions in their quest to replace Ellsbury's production in the outfield.

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