Boston has signed Napoli to a three-year deal worth $39 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Napoli has deal with red sox, 3 yrs, $39M
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 3, 2012
The Red Sox were left with a major hole at first base after they completed a massive trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers that included Adrian Gonzalez. Boston used James Loney and Mauro Gomez at first base for the remainder of the 2012 season but have been looking for a more permanent fit for the future—and Napoli is now that fit for the next three years.
Boston is still looking for help at both corner outfield positions, a starting pitcher or two, as well as potential aid to Jose Iglesias at shortstop.
Now that the Red Sox have a first baseman, they can focus on these other needs. Here are five moves they can make now that Napoli is signed.
One starting pitcher that Boston has been rumored to be interested in acquiring is former Red Sox Justin Masterson, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 3, 2012
Masterson pitched primarily out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, accumulating a 9-8 record in 67 appearances and posting a 3.76 ERA in 160.1 innings.
Since being traded to Cleveland at the 2009 July trade deadline, he has started in all but seven of his 113 appearances. He hasn’t seen much success with the Indians, going 30-45 with a 4.27 ERA in 659.2 innings, but he’s still just 27 years old, and there’s hope he could turn his career around with a new team.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported in November that Boston had interest in Masterson as well as Shin-Soo Choo, and that Boston could bring the right-hander back since they have such an improved farm system.
Boston’s farm system has strengthened over the past 12 months, partially because of the prospects obtained from the Dodgers in the August blockbuster. Thus, the Red Sox can afford to move the necessary minor leaguers to bring back Masterson, Choo, or both.
Adding Masterson to Boston’s rotation would be a moderate boost considering the Red Sox currently lack a fifth-starting pitcher.
Before the Red Sox signed Mike Napoli, they were looking at Nick Swisher, who could play both first base and right field. Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that despite signing Napoli, Boston still has interest in signing Swisher.
Though the Red Sox signed catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli to a three-year, $39 million deal on Monday, the move has not taken them out of the running for Swisher, who hit .272/.364/.473 with 24 homers and 93 RBI last season for the Yankees.
Bradford also notes that Swisher may wait to sign a deal until free-agent slugger Josh Hamilton is off of the market. Swisher is one of the biggest names on the market due to his production with the Yankees over the past couple of seasons as well as his versatility.
Boston is seeking a right fielder since Cody Ross, who was the primary right fielder last season, is currently a free agent as well and there’s no guarantee he re-signs with the Red Sox.
The Red Sox could also use a left-handed hitter in the middle of their lineup since they’ve started to get a little right-handed heavy. The only projected lefties in the lineup include Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia—who hits switch-handed.
Swisher—also a switch-hitter—has hit relatively the same from both sides of the plate over the course of his career. In nearly 3,000 at-bats from the left side of the plate, he has an .820 OPS and an .842 OPS in approximately 1,200 at-bats from the right side.
The Boston Red Sox have an interesting decision to make this season regarding who the starting shortstop will be. They traded Mike Aviles, who started at short for the majority of 2012, to the Toronto Blue Jays as a part of the John Farrell acquisition. That leaves them with Jose Iglesias and Pedro Ciriaco on the roster as potential candidates.
Since Iglesias is the younger option with more potential, it seems as if he’ll be the favorite to start on Opening Day. The problem with Iglesias is that he’s a poor hitter, and Boston isn’t sure if he’s ready for a full-time role, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.
Red Sox not sure Iglesias bat is ready and Bogarts at least a year away..#Drew— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 2, 2012
As Bowden mentions at the end of the tweet above, the Red Sox have expressed interest in free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew. Now the Red Sox could very much still sign Drew, but if they don’t, Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon could be another option, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
The #Dodgers are letting teams know that shortstop Dee Gordon is available, who could be a nice fallback for teams who don't sign Drew— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 2, 2012
Gordon missed half of the 2012 season due to injury and hit .228/.280/.281 in 87 games with one home run and 17 RBI but could provide Boston with a solid backup option should Iglesias start the season slowly.
An ideal move after signing Mike Napoli to play first base would be to fill their right field void with the guy who roamed it on a regular basis last season, Cody Ross.
As Jayson Stark of ESPN reports, the Red Sox are still in the market for Ross despite signing Napoli.
Signing Napoli would take the Red Sox out of Adam LaRoche bidding. But Cody Ross, Nick Swisher & Shane Victorino still on their radar screen
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 3, 2012
Ross was one of Boston’s most productive hitters last season, hitting .267/.326/.481 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI in 130 games. He hit in the heart of the lineup the entire season and really seemed to enjoy playing at Fenway Park, hitting .298/.356/.565 at home compared to .232/.294/.390 on the road. Ross is a dead-pull hitter who hit to left field 51 percent of the time last season with Boston, according to ESPN.
The Red Sox already signed Johnny Gomes this offseason, but Boston is still interested in bringing Ross back, according to Boston team president Larry Lucchino via Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald who said, "There is a similarity, to be sure. What we want to have this year, and we have the financial capacity to do it, is deep depth. We want deep depth."
The Red Sox already have Gomes, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish as outfield options. Re-signing Ross would definitely give Boston the depth that they need.
The Red Sox currently have Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway, David Ross and now Napoli on their roster as potential catcher candidates. Boston obviously now has Napoli—who will play first base regularly—as a potential spot catcher and my guess is that they only keep two other catchers.
Since Boston signed Ross this offseason, it would be strange for them to not use him in the major leagues. And since Lavarnway is the younger option with a lot of potential to shine in the big leagues, it would make sense that Saltalamacchia is the odd man out. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports confirms my assumptions.
With lavarnway, ross and napoli to catch, red sox will take offers on salty— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 3, 2012
Saltalamacchia has been Boston’s primary catcher for the past two seasons, compiling a .226/.290/.449 batting line with 41 home runs and 116 RBI in 234 games. Despite the low batting average and on-base percentage, Saltalamacchia brings value as a veteran defensive catcher who hits from both sides of the plate.
Sean McAdam of Comcast SportsNet New England speculates that Boston would be interested in acquiring New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey, and since the Mets seek help behind the plate, Saltalamacchia would be the clear trade bait, but that’s not the case.
Saltalamacchia would seem to be a piece in any talks for Dickey, but told that Mets believe they could do better at catcher. #RedSoxtalk— Sean McAdam(@Sean_McAdam) December 3, 2012
The Mets might not be Saltalamacchia’s next team, but that doesn’t mean that one of the other 28 teams wouldn’t be interested in him.