According to The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo via Twitter, Mike Napoli is a target at first base for the rebuilding Red Sox. Cafardo reported in the same tweet that the Red Sox also have interest in free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche.
In a second tweet on Thursday morning, Cafardo quoted a "prominent agent" as saying, "We view Boston as a contender because they'll build team quickly. I doubt they'll have trouble attracting freeagents."
Adam LaRoche, 33, had a career year in 2012, slashing .271/.343/.510 with 33 home runs, 35 doubles, 100 RBI and 76 runs scored. In the seven years in which LaRoche has played at least 136 games, he's managed at least 20 home runs, 78 RBI and a .259 batting average.
Aside from his offensive production, LaRoche is a consistent fielder who won his first Gold Glove in 2012.
His contract is likely to come in around $10 million per season, very doable for a Red Sox franchise that just shipped out Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford.
LaRoche has been relatively healthy throughout his career, and aside from last year's labrum injury and his 2004 debut, LaRoche has never played in fewer than 141 games.
As for Napoli, he owns a .259/.356/.507 slash line in his career with 162-game averages of 33 home runs, 25 doubles, 85 RBI and 83 runs scored.
Who is the better fit for the Red Sox?
Although he was an All-Star in 2012, Napoli posted a career-low .227 average in just 108 games played.
At 31 years old, Napoli is two years younger than LaRoche, but one has to wonder how much of a toll catching has taken on his body.
Even if the answer is none, LaRoche is the more consistent offensive threat and easily the better defensive first baseman.
LaRoche finished 2012 with Rtot, RF/G and RF/9 values of 13, 9.25 and 8.89, respectively, while Napoli managed values of minus-1, 8.19 and 6.75.
In terms of pure ability, LaRoche is the best candidate for the Red Sox. However, Napoli gives the team flexibility since he can play first base, catch and is willing to DH.
Ultimately, the Red Sox will have to choose between one of the two, and although LaRoche seems like the best candidate, Napoli may be the play based on positional flexibility.