With Tuesday’s news that the Washington Nationals have re-signed Adam LaRoche to a two-year deal (via Washington Times), the chances of finding someone else to play first base for the Red Sox this year are dwindling to zero.
Yes, we know they tried Bobby Abreu out in Venezuela, and some have suggested even playing David Ortiz at first full-time, but they really are not even short-term options to play the position.
When the Red Sox and Napoli originally agreed (via Comcast Sports New England) to a three-year deal for $39 million it did seem like an overpay, but now with the other reasonable free agents off the board, this is a deal they have to finish.
It would be very understandable if the Red Sox were now skittish about giving Napoli three years—his health is a concern, along with his declining production—but they have let this drag on way too long and frankly do not have any other options.
Either way, Napoli signing does not make the Red Sox into a playoff team.
Yes, they certainly have improved from last year's 69–93 debacle, but there are still too many question marks for them to really contend in a division that has reinvented itself this offseason.
The market is running out of places for Napoli as well.
With just five weeks to go until pitchers and catchers report for spring training, there are not a lot of first base jobs open, and he probably is at the point of his career where his body will not let him be an everyday catcher.
LaRoche’s signing also has taken most of Napoli's leverage away. He would be very hard pressed to get any other team besides the Red Sox to agree to the same terms that he negotiated with Boston before.
Finalizing this deal would also allow the Red Sox to trade either Ryan Lavarnway or Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Napoli can be the third catcher if they need one, and also fill in as designated hitter when Ortiz needs a break.
For this to be stretching out as long as this has is now ridiculous. The Red Sox need to get this deal done so they can go to spring training with that part of the roster solved, or finally come up with a plan B for someone else to play first base.
Either way, enough is enough.