The three year, $39 million contract that the Boston Red Sox and Mike Napoli agreed to earlier this winter has been replaced with a one-year, $5 million deal due to concerns that Boston had about Napoli's hip. Various incentives in the deal can increase the value to $13 million, which would give him the same salary he was scheduled to make in 2013 under the initial contract.
The drama over Napoli's hip ticked along throughout December and the first half of January, as Boston had concerns about it when they gave Napoli his physical after agreeing to the deal. There were rumors that the Red Sox would simply walk away from Napoli and go in another direction, but after Adam LaRoche re-signed with Washington this month and Michael Morse was traded to the Mariners yesterday, they really had no other options aside from circling back to Napoli and restructuring his contract.
If Napoli's hip is bothersome this year, the $5 million that Boston will be out is chump change to the organization, and will only have an effect for 2013. However, if Napoli is healthy and produces for the team, the Red Sox will still likely get their money's worth if he hits all of the incentives in the contract, and Napoli will get a chance to cash in on the free agent market again next winter. A healthy 2013 season from Napoli would be huge for not only him and his financial future, but also the Red Sox and their plans for the future as well. Boston potentially dodged a bullet by only inking Napoli for a year instead of three years, and if it doesn't work out with him, they'll get to do the same first base song and dance next winter, when the class of first base/DH types is more appealing than this winter's class was.
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