There is “nothing new to report” on the status of the ongoing negotiations between the Boston Red Sox and free-agent first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli, the player's agent, Brian Grieper, told ESPNBoston.com on Tuesday.
A union official added that the MLBPA has not been involved with the situation since before Christmas.
It has now been 36 days since news broke that the Red Sox and Napoli reached a three-year, $39 million agreement, which was expected to be finalized in short order after a physical. Napoli’s physical became anything but routine. Concerns about his hip held up the deal, and the sides have been working on altering the contract ever since.
Simply adding contract language that protects the Red Sox as a remedy in case the hip condition proves to be debilitating might not be enough to salvage the agreement, sources told ESPNBoston.com late last month. Such contract language was inserted in prior deals the Red Sox did with outfielder J.D. Drew and pitcher John Lackey. Drew’s deal took 52 days to resolve before the sides finalized the deal.
Meanwhile, if the Red Sox don't reach a deal with Napoli, their options to fill the void at first base continue to dwindle. Lance Berkman signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Texas Rangers earlier this week, and 33-year-old Adam LaRoche agreed on a two-year deal with the Nationals on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Napoli was expected to be a key component of Boston's lineup next season. He has hit 20 or more home runs in each of the past five seasons and batted a career-high .320 in 2011 before slumping to .227 last year.
Napoli has been on the disabled list five times in his career, not including the fractured ankle he sustained in the 2011 World Series, but never for a hip condition. He missed 34 games with a strained quad last season, 19 games in 2011 with a strained abdomen, 27 games with a strained shoulder before undergoing surgery in 2008, and 43 games with ankle and hamstring injuries in 2007.