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Baseball Insider

Mike Napoli to meet with Red Sox; Rangers, Mariners reportedly also in pursuit

Coveted free-agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli is meeting with the Red Sox in Boston this weekend, sources said.

Napoli has at least three teams in pursuit, including the Mariners and incumbent Rangers. Jim Duquette of Sirius/XM reported Napoli already met with the Mariners and has a meeting slated for Texas sometime this coming week.

The Red Sox's interest in Napoli is no surprise. He has been a Red Sox killer throughout his career and has a lifetime 1.107 OPS at Fenway Park, which fits his righty pull swing.

Boston has already signed catcher David Ross and right-handed hitter Jonny Gomes this winter, but envisions Napoli as a first baseman/catcher hybrid. With Ross already in the fold, a Napoli signing would mean the Red Sox have to trade one of their catchers, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be most likely to go. Ryan Lavarnway is the well-regarded catching prospect.

The Rangers didn't make Napoli the $13.3 million qualifying offer but remain interested.

Napoli had an extraordinary 1.046 OPS in 2011 when he helped lead the Rangers to Game 7 of the World Series, which he caught with a mangled ankle. His offense is good enough that he could play first base as well, and he's seen as a hybrid now, someone to play both first and catch. His batting average fell in 2012 from .320 to .227 but he still posted an .812 OPS.

 
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