Napoli’s contract is for one year with a base salary of $5 million, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney. With incentives, he can play himself to a $13 million payday, which boosts the compensation to the level of the three-year deal he first agreed to with Boston early this offseason.
Napoli and his former team, the Rangers, had reopened talks, and Texas even offered more money than the Red Sox, a source told ESPNDallas.com, but he chose Boston because he’d get a more clearly defined role with more at-bats. With Texas, Napoli would have shared playing time at catcher (A.J. Pierzynski), first base (Mitch Moreland) and designated hitter (Lance Berkman).
The deal comes more than six weeks after Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston. That deal was taken off the table when Napoli, in the judgment of the team’s medical staff, failed his physical because of a hip condition that never had surfaced publicly in his seven previous years in the big leagues, the first five with the Los Angeles Angels and the past two with the Rangers.
Napoli was the first player targeted this offseason by the Red Sox, who reached an agreement with the slugger on the first day of baseball’s winter meetings in Nashville.
When the deal fell apart, the overhaul of the Red Sox roster that lost 93 games in 2012 was missing a key piece in Napoli, who is expected to fill the void left at first base by the trade of Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers last August.
Napoli, who has played only a handful of games at first base, will be challenged to match Gonzalez’s Gold Glove defense and is not a high-average, high on-base percentage hitter. But he is expected to provide a middle-of-the-order power bat from the right side.
The Red Sox view Napoli’s swing as an ideal fit in Fenway Park, where he has slugged .710 with a 1.107 OPS, seven home runs and 17 RBIs in 19 games as a visiting player.
Boston is betting that Napoli will come closer to his career-best season of 2011, when he batted .320 with 30 home runs and a 1.046 OPS in his first year in Texas, than to 2012, when he dropped off to .227 with 24 home runs.
Information from ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Ben Rogers, ESPNDallas.com’s Richard Durrett and ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes was used in this report.