By Jeff Louderback
Last week, it was reported that the Red Sox and Mike Napoli agreed to a restructured deal that was trimmed from three years to one year. On Tuesday, Napoli signed the one-year contract that includes $5 million of guaranteed money with the potential to earn $13 million overall.
The 31-year-old Napoli was set to ink a three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox, but that did not happen after team officials were concerned the results of the first baseman/catcher’s physical. Media reports speculated that the physical indicated a potential hip problem, so the Red Sox were reluctant to go beyond one year.
In a conference call with the media today, when Napoli was introduced, it was revealed that he has Avascular Necrosis, a disease that causes bone deterioration due to an interruption of the blood supply. The condition was found in both hips. He has yet to show symptoms of the condition and is taking medication. Napoli is expected to be ready for spring training.
Napoli, who belted 30 home runs and hit .320 in 2011 but slipped to 24 home runs and a .227 average in an injury-interrupted 2012 campaign, gives Boston a right-handed power bat at first base. Though Napoli can also catch, likely he will spend most of his time this season at first base.
The Red Sox are reportedly pursuing a left-hander hitter who can play first base and a corner outfield spot since Napoli and the right-handed hitting Jonny Gomes (who was signed to play left field mostly against left-handed pitchers) mash lefties but are not as effective versus righties.