Sunday, January 13, 2013

Deja Drew All Over Again

Boston Red Sox and free agent catcher Mike Napoli agreed to a three year, $39 million deal on Dec. 3 of last year.  However, with pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, we still don't know if Napoli will be joining the team.

There have been several snags in negotiations with the former Texas slugger.  There are rumors surfacing of issues with Napoli's hip found during his physical which has sent up red flags for the organization, and consequently there are rumors that the deal will now be for just one guaranteed year.  Hmm, a player with an injury problem that the Sox are spending too much money on?

General manager Ben Cherington has seen this before, although he was not at the helm when this deal was being made.  Current Cubs GM Theo Epstein was the mastermind behind signing outfielder JD Drew in Boston, a contract worth $70 million that took 52 days to complete after the two sides agreed.  As talks dragged on, Epstein reportedly sent flowers to Drew's family.

"In the situation we had with Drew, you talk it through, try to use a lot of empathy, make sure he knows you realize it's an awkward situation and it's as awkward for them as it is for you," Epstein said.

"Just keep talking and try to find a mutually agreeable solution and remember that fairness is important.  Leverage can go back and forth at different times during the negotiations, but it's always important to remember that fairness matters in the end."

Epstein expressed his confidence in Cherington during his Hot Stove/Cool Music event last Friday, but as for now, the Napoli situation remains a mystery.  Also baffling is the Red Sox courtship of players like Adam LaRoche and more recently Michael Morse.  Its tough to see where their priorities are, and working on "back-up plans" seems suspect, leading to the belief that these talks may not be going the way the Boston front office had hoped for.

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