The Boston Red Sox agreed on a three-year, $39 million contract with free-agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli, ESPN Dallas reported Monday.
Napoli played with the Texas Rangers this year. The Red Sox expect to play Napoli at first base. He could also fill in at catcher if the team decides to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
The 31-year-old recently told ESPN Dallas that he just wants to play, but prefers catching.
“I feel the most comfortable behind the plate because that’s where most of my reps have been,” Napoli said. “Do I think I can be good at first base if I had reps and practiced it all the time? Yes. But it’s not like I’m saying I have to be a catcher. I just want to be in the lineup and play. If it helps at catcher, I’ll catch, or at first base, I’ll play there. But I like catching. I look at myself as catcher.”
Since the Rangers did not make a $13.3 million qualifying offer for Napoli, the Red Sox do not have to forfeit a draft pick to sign him.
Napoli provides Boston with some power in the lineup but he is coming off a season in which he batted .227 with 24 home runs and 56 RBI. In 2011, he hit .320 with 30 homers and 75 RBI.