Don’t read too much into Mike Napoli‘s rejection of the Red Sox’ $14.1 million qualifying offer. The two sides are still very much interested in continuing what has been a fruitful relationship thus far.
“We absolutely have an interest in having him back,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Monday of Napoli at the GM meetings in Orlando, Fla.
Napoli, of course, has made his love for Boston clear, saying numerous times throughout the season and since the World Series that his preference is to re-sign with the Red Sox.
It appears that the two sides might be moving toward a deal, too. CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam reports that the Red Sox have already begun negotiations on a multiyear deal that would keep Napoli in Boston for at least two years and perhaps longer. The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham also reports that the Sox and Napoli have engaged in extensive contract talks.
The Red Sox nearly signed Napoli to a three-year, $39 million contract last offseason, but the deal was subsequently reduced to a one-year pact because of a degenerative condition found in the slugger’s hips. Napoli did not experience any symptoms of the condition throughout the season, though, and an MRI taken after the Fall Classic revealed that there has been no deterioration since last winter.
“Mike and his agent have been fully transparent with what’s going on and we appreciate that,” Cherington told reporters Monday. “The most important thing, I think, is that he played a full year. We don’t have any reason to have any more concern than we did last winter.”
If Napoli, who is coming off a one-year, incentive-laden deal in which he earned $13 million, ends up signing elsewhere, the Red Sox will receive a compensatory draft pick by virtue of making him a qualifying offer. Clearly, the Red Sox are more focused on bringing back the first baseman than any draft pick compensation at this point, though.