Red Sox reportedly close to deal with Mike Napoli; Josh Hamilton viewed as long shot in Boston

Tim Brown
Yahoo! SportsDecember 3, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Building back from a disastrous 93-loss season and three consecutive dark Octobers, the Boston Red Sox on Monday were nearing a three-year, $39 million deal with free-agent first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli, according to reports out of Boston.

The Red Sox sought a first baseman and a catcher, and in Napoli found some of both, with a power bat. They remain in the market for a starting pitcher and outfielder, and while they've been linked to Josh Hamilton, team officials continue to frame that potential signing as a long shot.

Free agent Adam LaRoche had been a consideration for the Red Sox. LaRoche appears more likely to sign with the Washington Nationals.

Most expect the Red Sox to stay away from the short list of high-end free agents. That likely eliminates Hamilton and right-hander Zack Greinke.

[Related: A-Rod needs offseason hip surgery, could miss 'piece' of season]

The addition of Napoli adds a fourth catcher to a roster that already held Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway and David Ross. The club is believed to have made Saltalamacchia available in a trade.

By the standards of his breakout 2011 season, Napoli had a down 2012. Though he hit 24 home runs for the Texas Rangers, he batted .227, .179 against left-handed pitchers. He did hit well at Fenway Park, where he was 6 for 13 with three home runs, continuing a career-long trend in which he's batted .306 with seven home runs in 19 games in Boston.

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