Interesting stuff from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:
Could Mike Napoli’s deal with the Boston Red Sox be in jeopardy?
The Red Sox anticipated introducing Napoli at a news conference Tuesday, according to major-league sources, but did not go forward with the event.
Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox on December 3, then underwent his required pre-singing physical examination in the past couple of days. The guess here is that it didn’t go very smoothly. Napoli missed time in 2011-2012 with quad and oblique strains, and experienced some shoulder problems during the early part of his tenure with the Angels. He also injured his left ankle in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and Napoli’s agent Brian Grieper did not respond to Rosenthal’s requests for comment. You’d have to think there will be more information revealed in the near future.
UPDATE, 8:51 PM: A source clarified to Rosenthal that Napoli began taking his physical on Monday morning. So the deal should be announced by the end of this week if everything checks out fine.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.