The Red Sox later formally announced Napoli's return on Twitter:
Mike Napoli: two-year contract through 2015 season. To make room on 40-man, Alex Castellanos designated for assignment— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) December 12, 2013
Rob Bradford of WEEI.com initially broke the news:
Source: Napoli agrees with Red Sox— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) December 7, 2013
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal provides details on the deal:
Napoli two years, $32 million with #RedSox.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 7, 2013
Source: Napoli took less to stay with #RedSox. Earlier today talks were at a critical stage. He had at least one bigger offer.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 7, 2013
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that Napoli got a limited no-trade clause in the deal:
Mike Napoli got a limited no-trade clause in his $32M, 2-yr #redsox deal— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 9, 2013
Napoli was a key piece of the puzzle for the Boston Red Sox as they bounced back from a miserable 2012 and navigated their way through to a World Series championship. He was at his best in the ALCS as he hit a couple key home runs to help power Boston past the Detroit Tigers.
Bradord also indicates that the front office may have received a bit of motivation to get a deal done from the players in the clubhouse:
Sources: Red Sox players urged front office to up Mike Napoli offer http://t.co/ndxyIJrCPg— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) December 7, 2013
During the regular season, Napoli reached the 20-homer mark for the sixth consecutive year while driving in a career-high 92 runs and posting a solid .360 on-base percentage. Nearly half his hits (63 of 129) went for extra bases.
The other positive was his defense. After years of splitting time between catcher and first base, John Farrell and the Red Sox allowed him to play exclusively at first (except for eight games at DH). The result was improved defensive performance, as illustrated by his plus-10 DRS, which only increased his overall value.
Looking ahead, his consistent power production over the past handful of years makes him a pretty safe investment. He can step back into the middle portion of the lineup, get on base at a good clip, and connect on upward of 20 homers.
At 32, he should still have at least a couple more years at his best before having to worry about any type of decline. He's also got less wear and tear than a typical veteran who has played catcher because of his platoon roles over the years.
As he showed in 2013, he's exactly the type of player who can protect marquee players like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia in the lineup.
There are no sure things on the free-agent market, but Napoli comes close and should be a good investment for the Red Sox as they seek to recreate some of the magic that propelled them to another world title.