After speaking with Ben Cherington and John Farrell at Fenway Park tonight, here is the latest:
• Farrell doesn't seem too concerned about first base, which could suggest that something is close to happening. "I have the utmost confidence that this question will be answered in due time. We’re working through it. We’re all well aware of the certain situation that’s still being worked through," he said. "I know Ben is doing whatever he possibly can so that when we report to spring training that we’ve got that position answered.”
• Cherington has gone from not commenting about the situation to giving what have become regular updates. That also could suggest a settlement is close. Cherington is not one to lie, so when he says he's hopeful he really is hopeful.
• Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio, who often has Cherington on as a guest, reported today on Twitter that the Red Sox would like to cut the deal to one year.
The Red Sox could guarantee a year with an option based on plate appearances. Or simply guarantee a year, which would allow Napoli to prove he is healthy and return to the free agent market.
• The availability of Nationals outfielder/first baseman Mike Morse could also help lead to a settlement — or give the Red Sox an alternative to Napoli.
Morse is not really a first baseman, but the same is true of Napoli. Their bats are somewhat similar in terms of the numbers. Napoli has hit .263 /.354/.513 with 100 home runs the last four years (1,791 plate appearances). Morse has hit. 296/.345 /.516 with 64 home runs in the last three years (1,298 plate appearances).
Morse will be a free agent after the coming season.
But all along, the Red Sox — including owner John Henry — have been enamored with the idea that Napoli has a swing built for Fenway Park.
• Napoli is represented by Brian Grieper, a low-profile agent who does not have a large number of clients. Grieper is surely doing everything he can to keep Napoli close to the original $39 million the sides agreed on.
At some point, Grieper will have to either agree with what the Sox are proposing or try to find another team for Napoli, knowing his value has been diminished.
The situation is coming to a head. Hopefully (there's that word again) we'll have an answer soon.