Perhaps no one soaked up the euphoria of winning the World Series more than Mike Napoli.
He’ll be the first to admit it.
From mixing it up with fans at bars on Boylston to roaming in the city streets, Napoli wanted to stretch the championship celebration out as long as possible.
“I definitely had a good time after the World Series, after we won it,” Napoli said. “I just spent time with my family and my friends and the fans and the people of Boston. It was a great time. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Once the afterglow wore off, and the reality of having to work through the free agent process set in, he realized not only how much he wanted to do it again, but how much he wanted to do it in Boston.
As enticing as offers from the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Miami Marlins might have been, signing a two-year $32 million deal made the most sense for Napoli.
“I think that after going through this and being able to sit down and realize what happened, for me, it makes me hungrier,” Napoli said. “I started training again and I can’t wait to get back on the field and get with my teammates again and try to do it again. “
As the cleanup hitter for the most productive offense in baseball, Napoli hit .259 with 23 homers and 92 RBIs.
He did it on a one-year $5 million deal (plus $8 million in incentives) after his original three-year $39 million deal was shorted when Red Sox doctors discovered a degenerative condition in his hips.
Having the process go more smoothly this time was a relief, Napoli said.
“After going through what I went through last year, it was definitely a relief to just go through this and it was fairly easier than last year,” he said. "But ultimately I’m happy to be back.”
The new deal is guaranteed with no provisions for future hip issues.
“We’re confident that Mike is healthy and we’re thrilled that he’s going to be a big part of our team for the next couple years and hopefully beyond,” Sox general manager Ben Cherington said.
The value Napoli added not only with his power but with with intangibles small and large — from the transition he made to first base to the major-league leading 4.59 pitches he sees per plate appearance — made it a priority for Cherington to bring him back.
“I think when we pursued Mike last year and ultimately signed him, we did that because we thought that his skill set would ultimately help us on the field,” Cherington said. “We had also heard a lot about his reputation as a teammate and the other things that he brings to the table.
“Having spent several months around him, it became very clear that he was not just a really important part of the team on the field and what he does on the field, but a particularly important guy on the clubhouse. A lot of the things that Mike does as a player and a teammate are things that we believe in strongly.”