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Mike Napoli Returning to Red Sox Right Move for Both Sides

Mike Napoli agreed to return to the Boston Red Sox for two more seasons.
Mike Napoli Returning to Red Sox Right Move for Both Sides
Mike Napoli's return to the Boston Red Sox is advantageous for both sides. Photo courtesy Keith Allison via Creative Commons license.

First baseman Mike Napoli is returning to the Boston Red Sox, and no one was happier than the bearded man himself.

Napoli happily proclaimed his status by announcing the news himself on Twitter.

The two sides agreed to a

two-year, $32 million contract

on Friday, and considering Napoli’s original deal that was worked out a year ago, he makes out pretty well in the process.

Last December, the Red Sox announced that they had agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with Napoli, who had spent the previous two seasons with the Texas Rangers.

However, all deals in Major League Baseball can’t be consummated until a physical has been performed. When the Red Sox examined Napoli after the announcement, it was revealed that Napoli suffered from avascular necrosis, a debilitating hip condition. As a result, the Red Sox reduced their offer to just one year and $5 million. With incentives built into the deal, Napoli could make as much as $13 million.

Happily for both the Red Sox and Napoli, his hip condition wasn’t a factor in 2013, as Napoli hit .259 with 23 home runs and 92 RBI, playing in 139 games.

With his new two-year deal in place, Napoli will actually end up making $6 million more than the original deal announced last December.

In addition, it’s been reported that Napoli left money on the table by staying in Boston. The Boston Herald reported that the Texas Rangers offered three years and between $39-$42 million for Napoli to return to Arlington. Other sources said the Seattle Mariners were in play as well.

There’s obviously no question that Napoli thoroughly enjoyed his time in Boston last season. Not only did he walk away with a World Series championship, he endeared himself to a city that adored him in return.

In fact, after the Red Sox captured the World Series title, Napoli was seen over the following few days celebrating with fans at local watering holes, basking in the adulation and attention he received.

And Napoli’s community service can’t be overlooked, either.

This is a fit that simply works for both sides. For those of you not well-versed in sabermetrics, Napoli’s advanced offensive statistics match up more than favorably. ISO is a stat that measures a hitter’s isolated power—more to the point, it takes into consideration how good a hitter is in delivering extra-base hits.

In that particular category, Napoli scores much higher than his closest competitors who are currently free agents.

Player

2011-2013 ISO

2013 ISO

Mike Napoli

.255

.223

Corey Hart

.231

DNP

Mike Morse

.205

.167

Mark Reynolds

.217

.173

 

Corey Hart didn’t even play in 2013, so his offensive production moving forward is a crapshoot at best. Reynolds was released by the Cleveland Indians, and Morse struggled following his trade to the Baltimore Orioles late last season as well.

In addition, the Red Sox lost two key contributors to last season’s World Series when both Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury bolted via free agency.

Napoli’s defense can’t be overlooked, either. According to FanGraphs, Napoli ranked first among all qualified first baseman in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Considering that 2013 was Napoli’s first full year at the position, that is a remarkable achievement.

The bottom line for both the Red Sox and Napoli is that this is a deal that simply works well for both sides. In Napoli, the Red Sox receive a known offensive contributor who can continue to help from the right side of the plate. In addition, a short two-year commitment is favorable as well.

For Napoli, he returns to a team that he loved playing for, and to a city that clearly adopted him as a favorite son. It’s a happy marriage for sure.

 

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