Now healthy, Mike Napoli looks for big contract

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Napoli has a degenerative hip condition, but proved in 2013 that he could play through it with no problems.

Finally proven healthy, Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli will look for the big contract that was denied to him last offseason when he becomes a free agent following the World Series, reports MLB.com.

Though Napoli's thoughts now are on the upcoming World Series, in the back of his mind is the fact that he is in line for a nice payday as a free agent. He had been closing in on a three-year deal worth $39 million with Boston last year, but a hip issue dropped that to a one year contract with just $5 million in guaranteed money plus $8 million in incentives. It's worth point out that he fulfilled all of the incentives and received the full $13 million for 2013.

The issue in question was avascular necrosis, a degenerative hip condition caused by an interruption of the blood supply that can destroy joint articular surfaces. The condition was only discovered when he underwent routine physicals before signing the multi-year deal.

"It was very frustrating when I was trying to sign," Napoli told reporters. "I waited seven years for free agency and then got an opportunity, and it got taken away because of something I didn't even know I had and had never had any pain from."

Napoli, 31, has not shown any symptoms of the injury all year, and has had multiple MRIs in-season to check on the condition, giving him evidence that he can indeed play through a big contract. However, last year he did not have to deal with a qualifying offer: If the Red Sox were to make a qualifying offer to Napoli, it could prevent teams from offering him a contract, as they would not want to give up draft pick compensation for his services, similar to what happened with Kyle Lohse last year until the Brewers signed him in late-March.

Still, Napoli should see a secure contract offer in the offseason from someone, possibly even from the Red Sox once again. Over 139 games, he hit .259/.360/.482 with 23 home runs, and played a solid first base.

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