Mike Napoli is going to test the open market.
Napoli has rejected the Red Sox’ $14.1 million qualifying offer in order to pursue a multiyear deal in free agency, according to WEEI.com’s Alex Speier.
Napoli had until 5 p.m. Monday to accept the Red Sox’ qualifying offer, although it seemed likely that he would instead opt to test free agency. Napoli is coming off a solid season with the Red Sox, and is considered the best first baseman available on the open market. The likelihood of him being able to land a multiyear deal — whether in Boston or elsewhere — is high.
Napoli’s reported rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s looking to sign elsewhere. The 32-year-old has stated multiple times that he’d like to remain in Boston, and there’s absolutely a chance that the two sides could work something out. It’ll just take more than the one-year, $14.1 qualifying offer for the Sox to retain the slugger’s services.
It looked at one point last offseason like the Red Sox were going to sign Napoli to a three-year, $39 million contract, but that deal shrunk due to concerns about a hip condition. Napoli showed no symptoms of the hip condition in 2013, and according to Speier, an MRI performed last Tuesday revealed no signs of deterioration from last offseason.
Napoli hit .259 with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs in his first season in Boston. Napoli and the Red Sox can continue to negotiate a deal, but if the first baseman signs with another team, the signing team — by virtue of Boston’s qualifying offer — would be required to relinquish a draft pick to the Sox as compensation.