Baseball’s winter meetings start a week from Monday in Nashville. The Red Sox could be in position to make one important move before then.
Free agent Mike Napoli was in Boston Saturday to meet with the Red Sox, according to CBS Sports. Red Sox executives would not comment on whether a meeting took place.
Regardless, Napoli seems close to making a decision. He previously met with the Seattle Mariners and is expected to sit down with the Texas Rangers this week. Napoli, 31, is seeking a four-year contract
Napoli caught 72 games for the Rangers last season. But the Red Sox see him as a first baseman. Napoli has started 118 games at first base in his career.
Napoli hit a modest .227 last season, but had 24 home runs in 352 at-bats and an .812 OPS. He hit .320 with a 1.046 OPS in 2011 for Texas in what was the best season of his career.
Napoli was not made a qualifying offer by the Rangers, meaning the Red Sox would not forfeit a draft pick for signing him. That adds to his appeal.
Most teams view Napoli as a poor defensive catcher and would prefer to use him at first base.
He is not a particularly adept first baseman, but the Red Sox could compensate for that.
Napoli has hit well against the Red Sox (.288 with a 1.075 OPS) and at Fenway Park (.306 with a 1.107 OPS in 19 games). That could inflate his value in the eyes of some.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.