Mike Napoli has earned maximum $8 million in incentives

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Mike Napoli’s three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox was reworked into a one-year, $5 million deal after concerns about the health status of his hip, but he’s earned back some of that money via incentives.

Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that by being on the active roster for 165 days this season Napoli has earned the maximum $8 million in incentives, making it a one-year, $13 million contract. That’s still a long way from three years and $39 million, but Napoli should be able to snag a one- or two-year deal as a free agent this offseason that will bring the total money relatively close.

It’ll be interesting to see what the market is for Napoli this time around. He’s been healthy, moving away from catcher has allowed him to log a career-high 534 plate appearances, and his .838 OPS almost matches his .858 career mark, although the position switch means his offense is level valuable too. Can he get a two-year, $26 million deal this winter?

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉