UPDATE: Yes, there are incentives, and if reached, they can boost the deal up to $13 million or so. Still, the fact that it’s a $5 million base does suggest that the Red Sox were truly spooked by Napoli’s health.
10:20 AM: Wow! Heyman reports that the Napoli deal is for only $5 million! That’s is crazy-low given where the sides were at previously. One has to assume the deal is laden with incentives. Or that Napoli basically doesn’t have a functioning hip.
9:24 AM: Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that the Red Sox and Mike Napoli have reached a one-year deal.
He has no details, but reports last night suggested that it would be for less than the $13 million AAV that his initial three-year deal, tentatively agreed-to by the Sox before things went sideways, would have given him.
Definitely a downer for Napoli, who probably wanted to end his wandering of the past couple of years. But the fact that he didn’t simply tell the Sox to pound sand and go sign a deal with another team suggests that his hip problem is severe enough that he didn’t think he had the leverage to do so.
For now: he’s the Red Sox’ first baseman.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets will try veteran Jose Reyes in the outfield during spring training ahead of the 2017 season. Reyes, who has been in the majors over parts of 14 seasons, hasn’t logged any time in the outfield as a professional baseball player.
Despite Reyes’ involvement in a domestic violence issue last offseason, the Mets acquired him after the Rockies released him in June, following a 51-game suspension. He hit .267/.326/.443 with 25 extra-base hits, 24 RBI, and 45 runs scored in 279 plate appearances, spending most of his time at third base in place of the injured David Wright.
The Mets’ outfield is set with Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto plus one of Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce. Reyes and Juan Lagares would serve as backups.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports the Nationals are “balking at Bryce Harper’s demands in early talks about a long-term contract extension” and are thus prepared to let him walk when he becomes a free agent following the 2018 season.
What would make the Nationals balk? According to Nightengale’s source it’s a deal that “will exceed 10 years in length and likely pay him in excess of $400 million.”
That might seem crazy given historical norms and given that Harper is coming off a disappointing season, but if Harper returns to anything close to his 2015 form in which he won National League MVP honors while hitting .330/.460/.649 and hit 42 home runs, $400 million is going to seem quite reasonable. That sort of production was not some crazy fluke for a guy with Harper’s talent, after all. And he’ll be 26-years-old when he hits free agency, which is far, far younger than your typical free agent. Indeed, he’ll be entering what have, historically, been the prime years of most superstars’ careers.
The closest comp to star hitting free agency at that age was Alex Rodriguez, who was 25 when he signed his first $250 million deal following the 2000 season. Top big league deals going from $250 million to $400 million in the space of two decades is not really all that crazy when you think about it. Especially when you realize that, between 2001 and 2018, baseball revenues will have increased by a factor of three, assuming current growth holds.
UPDATE: My first thought after reading all of this was “I wonder if the Nats leaked the $400 million thing, whether it was an actual demand or not, in order to turn the PR in their favor if they deal Harper?” Question answered: