Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said the issues preventing the announcement of Mike Napoli’s three-year, $39 million deal remain unresolved.
“I understand the question,” Cherington said when asked about the topic at Thursday’s press conference to announce Shane Victorino’s official signing. “It’s a situation where we’re working through some things in regard to the player. Until every aspect of agreement is resolved, we’re not in position to comment publicly or announce anything. We’re still working through some issues. That’s all I can say at this point.”
Major league sources indicate that the language issues are related to a medical situation and that it involves the leg or hip area or both. Under former medical director Thomas Gill, who is now strictly the New England Patriots’ medical director, he always insisted on contractual language to protect the team. He did it with John Lackey, J.D. Drew and with Jason Bay, who declined and signed with the Mets.
The Drew language took almost five weeks to resolve. That protected the team in case Drew had a shoulder ailment, which would have voided the final year of the contract. That never happened. However, the clause did protect the Red Sox in Lackey’s case where Lackey had Tommy John surgery. If Lackey is an effective pitcher, he will have to pitch a sixth year for the Red Sox at the minimum salary.
Cherington would not comment on whether the language was medical.
“I don’t want to comment specifically,” he said. “Every time we sign a free agent to a guaranteed deal there are a number of things you have to come to agreement on, including contract language, terms, and money, and then there’s a physical with all these agreements. Until all those things are done and agreed upon, I can’t comment on it. All I can say is we continue to talk and there’s that consistent dialogue and work to resolve the issues that are outstanding. I can’t classify it more than that.
“Our hope is to be able to resolve the issues and again we’re working on it. There’s nothing else I can say about it,” said Cherington, who also indicated there’s no timetable associated with when it needs to be resolved.
Cherington said he’s still looking to improve the team and may be looking at another first base option if this doesn’t get resolved.