Free agent Mike Napoli agreed to terms with the Red Sox back on Dec. 3, accepting three years and $39 million to be the team’s primary first baseman.
Ben Cherington acknowledged a deal was in place that day and happily talked about Napoli’s strengths as a player.
Nearly four weeks later, Napoli remains a free agent. His physical caused enough concern for the Red Sox to seek an adjustment in the terms. Napoli is believed to have a pre-existing hip injury.
Manager John Farrell, during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub, said Napoli remains a priority.
“That is still being worked on. As Ben has mentioned, there are no updates in terms of where that situation exists. We’re hopeful he is in a Red Sox uniform, but there are still things to work through,” Farrell said.
“The thing that has not changed is Mike Napoli is a clear-cut target for us. We’re not turning the page on this situation as of today, and that’s not to allude that at some point in the future we’re going to. But our goal, and Ben’s goal, is to get something worked out and a deal in place.”
The Red Sox, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported, have stayed in touch with free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche while working on a deal for Napoli.
LaRoche is seeking a three-year deal to stay with the Washington Nationals. The team would prefer a two-year agreement for the 33-year-old.
If the Red Sox were to sign LaRoche, they would forfeit a draft pick. Their first-round pick (No. 7 overall) is protected. But the Sox would lose their second-round pick, which will be among the top 50.
The Sox also would lose the money linked to that pick, approximately $1 million. If the player selected signs for less, that money can be used for other players.
Beyond that, LaRoche would almost surely require a three-year deal to come to Boston.
The Sox have so far avoided free agents linked to draft pick compensation. That could change if they become desperate for a first baseman. But a more likely outcome still appears to be working out a deal with Napoli.