Finally, the Mike Napoli saga is coming to an end well over a month after it was first announced that he was going to sign with the Boston Red Sox, according to this report from WEEI‘s Rob Bradford.

It was well worth the wait. Instead of a three-year deal worth $39 million, Napoli is now playing on a one-year contract worth $5 million, according to this tweet from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

According to the same report, Bradford details that Napoli has the ability to earn another $8 million in performance bonuses.

The reason for all of this is due to an existing hip condition that came up during Napoli‘s first physical with the team in December. The Sox and Napoli had been quietly working on restructuring the initial contract to something that protected the Sox if Napoli was injured due to the hip.

If the hip issue was a completely minor issue, it is likely that Napoli would have left in frustration. The fact that Napoli and his agent Brian Grieper kept at this meant that the Sox’s findings were going to be consistent with what other teams might have found.

Napoli is now guaranteed nothing past next season, meaning that he will be motivated to show that he is capable of remaining healthy and being an extremely productive player for the Sox.

Losing potentially $34 million will do that to a player.

However, this move could turn out to be a win-win for both player and team.

Napoli will have the ability to spend 81 games next season at Fenway, giving him a chance to really boost his numbers after a poor 2012 season where he hit 24 home runs and drove in 56 runs with a slash line of .227/.343/.469 while playing for the Texas Rangers.

If Napoli is able to recreate his superior 2011 season with the Rangers, where he hit 30 home runs and knocked in 75 runs, while hitting .320/.414/.631, he will earn back the $34 million left on the table and then some.

For the Sox, they will have an extremely motivated player who has shown that he wanted to play for the Sox, working through the frustration of the renegotiated contract and staying with the team.

The Sox retain the freedom and flexibility to do whatever they would like after next season; re-sign Napoli, look at a player like the Minnesota Twins’ Justin Morneau or a trade candidate like the New York Mets’ Ike Davis.

This also makes Napoli potentially the most appealing trade chip in baseball come the July deadline.

Obviously, if the Sox are in contention, they aren’t going to move Napoli. But, if the Sox are on the outside of the playoffs looking in, then trading Napoli could continue to beef up the Sox’s farm system.

With about a month to go before pitchers and catchers report, Sox’s general manager Ben Cherington has made all of the major moves that he is likely to make this winter.

It’s almost time for the Sox to put last season behind them.


Information used from MLB, Baseball Reference, MLB Trade Rumors, WEEI, CBS Sports

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