It appears the Boston Red Sox are lining up a contingency plan if their mystery issue with Mike Napoli isn’t resolved.
Boston has entered into talks to with free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, according to FOX Sports.
The Red Sox came to terms on a three-year deal worth $39 million more than three weeks ago with Napoli, but have failed to formally announce the deal. Speculation pegs a hip injury as the culprit for the hold up. The injury was scary enough to keep the Texas Rangers, Napoli’s club from last season, and the Seattle Mariners at bay.
To date, Boston brass has refused comment on the 31-year-old’s contract situation.
“I can’t comment on that specifically,” Red Sox assistant GM Brian O’Halloran said to NESN.com. “Nothing new from what Ben said the last time he spoke with [the media]. We continue to talk to a number of free agents and the conversations are ongoing as Ben alluded to previously.”
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Though he has played a considerable time at catcher, Napoli was expected to have more of a role at a first base and designated hitter.
LaRoche also wants a three-year deal, although his former team, the Washington Nationals, were hesitant to offer him that long of a deal. If they did sign LaRoche, Boston would have to fork over a second-round draft choice to Washington in exchange.
At 33 years old, LaRoche hit a career-high 33 home runs and tied his career best of 100 RBIs, while earning some votes for NL MVP with the Nationals. If it weren’t for the draft pick, LaRoche would be a cheaper alternative to Napoli. LaRoche earned $8 million last season, but Boston could be looking for more safeguards in Napoli's deal and may be floating the idea of another free agent to get those safeguards.
It would not be LaRoche's first trip to Fenway either. He bounced around the majors in 2009, playing for three different teams, including six games with Boston.
The Rangers and Mariners, along with the Tampa Bay Rays, have also expressed interest in LaRoche since winter meetings began.