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Sports

December 4, 2012

Napoli, Boston strike $39M, 3-year deal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Adding offense following a disappointing season, the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a $39 million, three-year contract with catcher Mike Napoli, a person familiar with the deal said.

The agreement is subject to Napoli passing a physical, which will take place later this week, the person said Monday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet final.

“Awesome addition to our team!” Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester tweeted.

A 31-year-old who also plays first base, Napoli hit .320 with 30 homers and 75 RBIs as the Texas Rangers won their second straight AL pennant in 2011, then slumped to a .227 average with 24 homers and 56 RBIs this year as he became a first-time All-Star.

Boston now has four catchers, with Napoli joining Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway and David Ross. Saltalamacchia started 95 games behind the plate last season, with Kelly Shoppach getting 42 starts and Lavarnway 25.

Napoli could see most of his playing time at first base because Adrian Gonzalez was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August along with pitcher Josh Beckett and outfielder Carl Crawford.

Napoli is a career .306 hitter at Fenway Park (19 for 62) with seven homers and 17 RBIs. He is the second free agent this offseason to join the Red Sox this following outfielder Jonny Gomes, who got a $10 million, two-year contract.

Boston, which failed to reach the playoffs for the third straight year, has been retooling since summer.

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