NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It was by far the biggest news of baseball's winter meetings so far, and it happened early in the day as catcher Mike Napoli agreed to leave the Texas Rangers and join the Boston Red Sox.
Rangers general Manager Jon Daniels was reluctant to talk about another team'ss signing.
"We would have loved to have Nap back," he said. "At the end of the day, we had a pretty robust market out there. He's a heck of a player. He was huge cog on — in my opinion — the best team and a group of teams in the history of the franchise. If that is indeed the case, we certainly wish him the best. I have nothing negative to say about Mike."
The Red Sox have not made Napoli's deal official, but it's said to be worth $39 million over three years.
Texas did not give Napoli a qualifying offer, which means the Rangers will receive no compensation for his loss.
"It's a lot of money — and, granted, we always think that with free agents — but the Rangers didn't want to pay $13 million a year for Mike Napoli," explained MLB on Fox senior reporter Ken Rosenthal. "They didn't make a qualifying offer for one year for $13 million, so why would they do it for three?"
"Exactly where is the fit?" asked MLB Network analyst John Hart. "I don't feel that Texas felt he would be a 120- or 140-game catcher."
"I would assume that Boston knows their club really well, and Mike knows his situation really well, so you've got two people that know each other really well and they figure it should work together," said former major league manager Tony LaRussa. "It should be a really good place for him."
"Napoli has been big part of this ball club the last couple of years, a big power bat," said former Texas Rangers player and MLB.com analyst Mark McLemore. "They got to replace him, and with not knowing what's going to happen with Josh [Hamilton], it leaves a hole."
The Rangers did come to terms with catcher Geovany Soto. It's a one-year deal, but Jon Daniels said the Rangers are on the hunt for more help behind the plate.