One of the most important cogs in the Boston Red Sox machine that resulted in a World Series title for the franchise will be returning to the club next season. And the season after that. On Friday, Mike Napoli announced on Twitter his own signing with the Red Sox, which involved putting his signature to a contract that was first reported by Rob Bradford of WEEI.com and Sean McAdam of Comcast Sportsnet New England to last two years and pay him $32 million, marking the second time in as many offseasons that Napoli will be signing a multi-year contract with the Red Sox.
This time, however, the multi-year contract should actually make it through the entire offseason without being negated since the Red Sox will be going into the signing with completely open eyes. There should not be any surprise ailment in the physical Napoli takes this time like there was last offseason when the Red Sox found out about Napoli's avascular necrosis condition in both hips.
Once they discovered that ailment, which involves the death of the hip bone due to a lack of blood supply, the Red Sox thought better of hitching their wagon to the Napoli train for multiple seasons, taking a three-year, $39 million deal off the table and replacing it with a one-year, $5 million one.
The combination of Napoli's two contracts does not quite add up to the original one that he signed, but it is not difficult to understand why the Red Sox feel a lot more comfortable making more of a commitment to Napoli. He played in 139 contests for the Red Sox in 2013, showing no ill effects from the avascular necrosis, and was one of the three best offensive players for the Red Sox and one of the four best overall players on the club, helping to power the team to the best record in baseball and a championship.
In his 578 plate appearances, Napoli posted a batting line of .259 BA/.360 OBP/.482 SLG with a .367 wOBA and owing entirely to his hitting was able to contribute 3.9 wins above replacement level (WAR); Napoli also played adequately enough on defense to prevent himself from costing the Red Sox any runs.
For the next two seasons, Napoli's age-32 and age-33 seasons, the Red Sox should receive similar levels of contribution from their newest signee, which makes this an incredibly smart and financially astute deal; the deal might also end up being a bargain for the Red Sox if Napoli can contribute as many win shares in 2014 and 2015 as he did in 2013.
The re-signing of Napoli made too much sense not to be done, and now that it is completed, both Napoli and the Red Sox can set about the task of making a repeat run to the World Series.