The long national nightmare is over. Mike Napoli is finally about to join the Boston Red Sox.
Though general manager Ben Cherington wasn't ready to announce the move Jan. 17, according to sources, Napoli and the Sox agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with incentives that could push the total value up to $13 million if Napoli avoids time on the disabled list because of the hip.
That's what Napoli would have averaged on the three-year, $39 million deal he agreed to on Dec. 3, before a physical revealed issues with his hip that sent the two sides back to the negotiating table for seven weeks.
"There's still some things we've just got to work through," Cherington said Jan. 17. "It's fair to say we've made some progress in the last day or so. Hopefully I'll have something more formal to say soon."
As first basemen disappeared from the market (and thus filled holes on other teams), it became apparent that the Napoli-Red Sox marriage would happen. The only question was how much he would get and for how long.
The one-year deal for just $500,000 more in base pay than Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia received to avoid arbitration suggests the team's concerns are significant.
That said, the Red Sox made Napoli their first target of the winter because they believed his right-handed power fit perfectly in Fenway Park, where he has routinely tortured the Red Sox. They will now get a chance to find out.