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Red Sox getting close to a deal for Mike Napoli

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 3, 2012 10:42 AM

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NASHVILLE Red Sox officials are talking about Mike Napoli like he's part of the team. It's not official yet, but a three-year deal could be announced before the end of the day.

No word yet on the value of the contract. But it sounds like the Red Sox went with a larger average annual salary to avoid going four years. First base is easily the thinnest position in the Red Sox farm system but the Red Sox are trying hard to avoid long-term deals.

Napoli, 31, has been one of the best righthanded hitters in the game the last few years. He hit only .227 for the Rangers last season but had an .812 OPS. Over the last five seasons, Napoli has 120 home runs and an .879 OPS.

The Red Sox plan to allow Napoli to catch some according to sources. But they will primarily use him at first base.

With Napoli now part of the catching group, even if only a small part, it seems almost likely the Sox will trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway. The other alternative would be to leave Lavarnway in Triple A.

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