This afternoon the Red Sox officially introduced Ryan Dempster, who signed a two-year, $26.5 million deal last week, but Mike Napoli’s reported three-year, $39 million contract has yet to become official and general manager Ben Cherington didn’t have much to say about it.
“There’s really nothing to comment on,” Cherington said, via Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “As with any free agent, until it’s done, it’s not done. We continue to work on different ways to improve the team. I’ll comment on it as soon as I can, but I can’t right now.”
There’s been lots of speculation about the source of the delay with Napoli, who originally agreed to the deal way back on December 3. When asked it the team continues to be in the mix for different first basemen without Napoli officially under contract Cherington replied: “Sure, we’ve got to keep active. Until something is done, it’s not done. Even then we can’t be blind to trying to improve the team in other ways.”
So, basically … who knows. Obviously there’s something holding up the Napoli deal nearly three weeks later and the natural assumption is that it’s health-related, perhaps causing the Red Sox to try to rework some aspects of the contract. But so far at least there’s no indication that either side is going to back out of the deal.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.