BOSTON Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington offered little in the way of news on the Mike Napoli negotiations Friday night other than to say negotiations continue.
The Sox and Napoli reached a tentative agreement on Dec. 3, during the winter meetings in Nasvhille, on a three-year, 39 million contract. But that deal, 39 days since it first became public, has yet to be finalized.
While neither side has said anything publicly, it is believed the Sox are looking to add language to the contract to protect the team against a hip issue that was discovered during Napolis physical.
Cherington, speaking to reporters very briefly before the Hot Stove Cool Music event at Fenway Park Friday night, did say that free agent options are limited and is hopeful of ultimately reaching an agreement with Napoli, but aside from that issue we may look to bring some guys into camp who can play first base."
It is not the first time the Sox have been in protracted negotiations with a free agent. They went through a similar situation with J.D. Drew before the right fielder and agent Scott Boras agreed to a five-year contract in 2008, 52 days after initial reports of the deal, also during the winter meetings that year.
Theo Epstein, the Sox GM at that time and now the Cubs president of baseball operations, was also in attendance Friday night at Fenway. While he is not privy to the current Sox negotiates, there are similarities.
With the situation we had with Drew you just talk it through, try to use a lot of empathy, try to recognize that you know its an awkward situation, as awkward for them as it is for you, keep talking, try to find a mutually agreeable situation, and remember that fairness is important, Epstein said.
Leverage can go back and forth at different times during negotiations but its always important to remember that fairness matters in the end. Youre going to do a lot of deals with the agent over the years and the way you treat players matters to others as well. So from what I understand, and what I know about Ben, thats never an issue. Hes always very locked in on being fair.