Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, appearing on WEEI Thursday night, said he
could offer no update on negotiations with free agent first
baseman-catcher Mike Napoli, other than to say the sides are still talking.
"We're still talking and when you're talking, there's hope for a resolution,'' Cherington said. "But nothing to report right now.
"We have had dialogue [with Napoli's agent, Brian Grieper]. It's one of those situations, out of respect to Mike and the process, I'm not going to get into detail. Whenever we're talking and there's dialogue, it means we're hopeful of being able to do something, but we just don't know yet. We'll see how it plays out."
It is now 38 days since the Sox and Napoli reached agreement on a deal that was to have paid him $39 million over three years. The deal hinged on Napoli taking a physical, and concerns about a hip condition surfaced that has cast the deal in some doubt. Clearly, the Sox are attempting to rework the terms of the deal in some fashion; what neither side has been willing to say is whether the Sox have asked to include language that would protect them against injury, as they did with J.D. Drew in 2007, or are simply seeking a reduction of the dollars and/or years they've offered to Napoli.
These things always seem so silly to me. These two guys can't just sit down in a room and hammered all this out within 5 hours? Really?
The chain of events was basically this: Sox come to terms with Napoli. Sox find out that Napoli is using his grandmother's hip in place of his own. Napoli's agent shouts the 'F' word really really loudly. Sox decide that they still want Napoli, but want to change the contract a bit. Napoli's agent performs a series of sweet fist pumps. And then?
As of right now, there's no "and then".
Once all that other stuff happened, I don't understand why something wasn't able to be worked out. Cherington says, "We need to protect ourselves here. This is as far as we're willing to go." Napoli's agent says, "I need to you come a bit further." Yada yada yada, somebody signs a freaking contract.
What it's starting to feel like is that the Sox don't really want him, at least not for whatever they're going to be on the hook for. And Napoli doesn't want to miss out on his last big payday simply because a quarter of his body is on the fritz. So Napoli is waiting for someone, anyone, to come to his rescue and toss him a few sacks of cash. Boston knows a.) that ain't happening, and b.) Napoli's best chance at being productive and getting himself another deal if his hip holds up is in Fenway.
So we have ourselves an old fashioned Mexican standoff. At some point, one of the two sides (Napoli's) is going to say "Screw it" and lower their asking price to get the deal done. The only trouble is that it's January 11th and Spring Training is still a ways away, so this could drag on a while longer.
Honestly, though. This shouldn't have taken more than a few hours.
Rest of the links:
Herald - Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz should skip WBC | Right-hander Javier Vazquez still on radar | Globe - Ask Nick: Is Cherington making the grade? | Chat with Peter Gammons Friday at 11 a.m. | WEEI - The Red Sox' search for the next Lester and Buchholz | Curt Schilling on D&C: Hall of Fame shutout ‘one of the prices’ all players paid for failure to address steroids | CSNNE - Report: Red Sox have -- or haven't -- broken off talks with Mike Napoli | Nava preparing for spring