Almost two months after agreeing to a three-year, $39 million contract with Mike Napoli, the Red Sox finalized a revised deal with the slugger last week. The Red Sox didn't want to make a long-term commitment to Napoli after a December physical revealed a serious hip condition known as avascular necrosis.
The condition restricts blood flow to the hip joints and can lead to the bone collapsing. Napoli says he hasn't experienced any symptoms from AVN, which shouldn't keep him from serving as Boston's first baseman in 2013.
Napoli's new one-year contract has a base value of $5 million. If he is able to stay healthy and off the disabled list, he can earn an additional $8 million to bring the deal's value up to the $13 million value he would have received under the original agreement.
After his physical, the Red Sox stepped away from the agreement and explored other options. They considered Adam LaRoche, while Napoli's agent looked at signing with the Rangers or Orioles.
This is the latest in a long line of mistakes/bad luck for the Red Sox. They reached twin three-year, $39 million deals with Napoli and Shane Victorino in early December, only to see the better of those two additions come into question because of a bizarre hip condition.
I gave the initial Napoli agreement a B-, against a C- for the Victorino deal, because of his ability to play at first base, designated hitter and catcher as well as history of success at Fenway Park. He was initially looking for a four-year deal, agreed to a three-year pact and now has to settle for a one-year contract. His long-term security and career stability faded quickly, while the Red Sox were able to add to their offense without more than a one-year commitment.
Grade for Napoli: C-
How the offseason has unfolded is largely unfortunate for Napoli, who was a physical away from signing a contract worth eight times as much guaranteed money as the deal he ended up with. Nevertheless, his grade for the revised deal shouldn't be as high as it was for the $39 million pact.
When the Red Sox first agreed to terms with Napoli, there was a lot of talk about how well he has hit in Boston. As a member of the Angels and Rangers, he has 73 career plate appearances at Fenway. He has hit .306/.397/.710 with seven home runs and 17 RBI. His OPS of 1.107 is outstanding, but comes in just 19 games. His batting average on balls in play at Fenway is .353, which will regress to the mean as he will play 81 games there in 2013.
Napoli has been inconsistent throughout his seven-year career. He hit .247 with the Angels in 2007, then higher than .270 in 2008 and '09. He dropped to .238 in his final season with Los Angeles (2010) and then surged to .320 with his first 30-home run season in 2011 with the Rangers. Last year, his average dropped nearly 100 points down to .227 with 125 strikeouts in just 108 games.
Grade for Red Sox: A
While the Red Sox wanted to sign Napoli to a three-year, $39 million deal, based on his talent and the financial hit alone this revised contract is a home run (pun intended). If Napoli struggles to remain on the field -- he has dealt with injuries not related to this hip condition in the past -- the Red Sox will owe him just $5 million. If he hits plate appearance benchmarks and remains active, Boston will gladly pay him $13 million to add power to their lineup over the short term.