Mike Napoli made it clear that he wanted to stay with the Red Sox.
On Friday, he proved it.
Passing up at least one offer of greater value elsewhere, Napoli agreed to a two-year, $32 million deal to return to the Sox Friday night. The contract does not have an option for a third season.
According to an industry source, Napoli passed on a deal from another team that would have paid him more. Both the Texas Rangers -- for whom Napoli played from 2011-2012 -- and Seattle Mariners were interested in signing the slugger. One industry source believed that one of those teams offered Napoli a three-year guaranteed deal at approximately $13 million per season, but the Red Sox offered a higher AAV (average annual value) of $16 million.
As was their practice last off-season, the Red Sox again don't to mind spending more for a shorter-term deal.
Napoli, of course, was originally signed to a three-year, $39 million deal last winter, only to have it discovered that he was suffering from a degenerative hip condition, which caused the Sox to pull the offer off
Eventually, Napoli agreed to a one-year deal for a $5 million base salary and another $8 million in incentives, all of which he realized.
Over three seasons -- 2013-2015 -- Napoli will now earn more ($45 million) than he would have had the original deal stood.
Napoli hit .259 with 23 homers and 92 RBI for the Sox in his first season and played a strong first base in his first full season at the position. Among Red Sox players, only David Ortiz hit more homers and knocked in more runs.
Napoli also became an important personality on the Sox, sporting a beard soon after seeing that new teammtes Jonny Gomes had grown one before spring training. Napoli was among the first players to begin the practice of tugging on teammates' beards after hitting a home run.
He established a club record for most strikeouts 187, but also walked 73 times, helping him finish with an on-base percentage of .360.
He appeared in 139 games, the second-highest figure in his career and showed no ill-effects of the hip problem. The Sox were careful with him in spring training, bringing him along slowly while beginning him on a daily program that included daily therapy and medication.
At the conclusion of the season, an exit physical revealed that Napoli's hip was no worse that it had been before the season.
Napoli worked hard in spring training with third base coach Brian Butterfield to learn his new position and surprised most with his defensive play. One defensive metric showed that he saved the Sox 11 runs over the course of the season, the most of anyone at the position in the American League.
Despite that, Napoli was not among the three finalists for the Gold Glove.
It was with his bat, however, that Napoli contributed most. After a strong regular season, he was streaky in the post-season. But his solo homer provided the only run in a 1-0 ALCS Game 3 win over Detroit and Justin Verlander and he added four RBI in five games in the Sox' World Series win over St. Louis.