The Boston Red Sox are now in day 25 of (re)negotiations with free-agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli, and things are getting any easier for the two sides to come to a compromise about the righty slugger's hip issues in regards to his contract. Now it appears that an other, mystery club may be involved in a preliminary attempt to steal Napoli away from Boston, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI:
According to multiple baseball sources, at least one team has been in communication with Mike Napoli's representatives regarding the free agent infielder's status since negotiations with the Red Sox hit a snag.
According to one source, it is believed no contract offer has been extended by a team other than the Sox since the early December agreement with Boston.
News broke on Thursday that the Red Sox had re-opened talks with free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, so there is a good chance that the mystery team rumor is mostly a response to that. Both sides are looking for leverage in the contract negotiations, and making it look as though there are other viable options on the table is one way to get the upper hand in talks.
However, since Napoli's three-year, $39 million agreement with the Sox is still technically unofficial, there is nothing concrete stopping other teams from making a formal offer for the 31-year-old. The Mariners and Rangers are still looking for a power bat -- though Seattle already has a bit of a logjam at 1B/DH/C -- so Napoli could end up in either place if things fall through with Boston.