BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Red Sox have reportedly made a multi-year offer to Mike Napoli, but the first baseman will test the free agent market according to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan.
Napoli signed a one-year, incentive-laden contract with Boston last offseason after concerns arose over a lingering hip issue. The two sides had originally agreed to a three-year deal, but Boston was concerned enough about the hip to back off their initial offer.
But Napoli hit .259 with 23 home runs and a career-high 92 RBIs and played gold glove caliber defense at first in 139 games in the regular season, alleviating any concern about the hip disorder. Though he struggled at the plate at times during the playoffs, Napoli came through with some clutch hits for Boston in the ALCS against the Tigers on the way to the 2013 World Series title.
The 32-year-old Napoli would like to return to Boston, where he became a fan favorite for his big swings and bushy beard, but he is expected to have plenty of other teams vying for his services. The Baltimore Orioles, who made a push for Napoli last offseason, could be the Red Sox’ biggest threat.
Boston made a qualifying offer to Napoli last week, which he is expected to decline. That would mean if Napoli signs elsewhere, the team that signs him would have to forfeit a draft pick to the Red Sox.
A veteran of eight MLB seasons, Napoli is a career .259 hitter.
Baseball’s GM meetings get underway on Monday in Orlando, Florida, and the free agent frenzy is expected to begin shortly after.
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