An industry source confirmed reports that Red Sox officials had a dinner meeting in Boston with free agent Mike Napoli on Saturday, but according to the source, the team has yet to make an offer to the power-hitting catcher/first baseman/DH. Jen Royle (via twitter) was the first to report that the meeting included principal owner John Henry, GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell.
Napoli slumped to a .227 average with a .343 OBP, .469 slugging mark and .812 OPS with 24 homers in 108 games in 2012 with the Rangers, a year in which a leg injury limited him to 108 games (his fewest games played since 2008). For his career, he's a .259 hitter with a .356, OBP, .507 slugging mark and .863 OPS while averaging 33 homers per 162 games.
The Sox' interest in Napoli is primarily as a first baseman and a fallback DH option for for David Ortiz. His appeal to the Red Sox as a free agent was augmented by the fact that he was not given a qualifying offer by the Rangers, meaning that another team will not have to sacrifice a draft pick if it signs the free agent. That gives Napoli one advantage in the market over first baseman Adam LaRoche, who is coming off a stronger 2012 season but who did receive a qualifying offer from the Nationals. While the Red Sox have a protected first-round draft pick in 2013, the team is still reluctant to part with its second-round pick.
Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio reported on Sunday that Napoli is waiting for one of the teams that is pursuing him to make a four-year offer. According to Bowden, the Sox, Rangers and Mariners are all pursuing the catcher.
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