The Red Sox biggest competitor for the services of free agent first baseman Mike Napoli could be his old team, the Texas Rangers.
Here's what ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted from the general manager meetings in Orlando, Fla.;
Some executives are convinced that Texas will emerge as Boston's greatest competition for Mike Napoli; his 1B play an eye-opener for scouts.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 15, 2013
Like the Red Sox in 2013, the Rangers reached the World Series in 2011 with Napoli in the middle of their lineup. The Rangers lost the Series to the Cardinals and Napoli was a catcher, but still you get the idea. Napoli left Texas as a free agent last winter to sign with the Red Sox but his Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base for Boston this past season has the Rangers taking another look at him.
Sitting courtside at the Bobcats-Celtics game on Wednesday night at TD Garden, Napoli told CSNNE that Boston "is the place I want to play. Hopefully, it works out."
He signed with the Red Sox last winter for what was originally a three-year, $39 million deal. The contract was reduced to a one-year, incentive-laden deal because of Napoli's degenerative hip condition. He reached the incentives and wound up making $13 million for the season, in which he hit .259 with 23 homers and 92 RBI.
Napoli turned down the Red Sox one-year qualifying offer of $14.1 million on Monday. If another team signs him, the Red Sox would get a draft pick as compensation.
If he really wants to stay in Boston, the Texas interest could lead the Red Sox to up the ante to keep him. The Denver Post reported that the Colorado Rockies are said to be interested, as well.