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Red Sox 'absolutely' want Napoli back

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  November 11, 2013 10:53 PM

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ORLANDO, Fla. — GM Ben Cherington wasn't remotely surprised that Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Napoli declined qualifying offers. The Red Sox, he said, have held discussions with all three players about contract parameters.

The Sox, he said, also remain interested in catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, righthanded reliever Joel Hanrahan and infielder John McDonald.

“There’s real interest. But nothing more than that,” Cherington said Monday night. “We’ve had conversations. … There’s real interest at different levels in all six of them.”

The Red Sox, major league sources said, have had more extensive talks with Napoli and agent Brian Grieper about a new contract. Napoli hit .259 with an .842 OPS in 139 games for the Sox in his first season in Boston. He was second on the team with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs.

Napoli has said several times since the end of the World Series that he would prefer to stay with the Red Sox.

“We absolutely have an interest in having him back,” Cherington said.

The Red Sox and Napoli agreed to a one-year contract last winter after a physical showed a degenerative condition in his hips. An MRI taken after the World Series showed nothing that caused any greater concern, Cherington said.

“Mike and his agent have been fully transparent with what’s going on and we appreciate that,” Cherington said. “The most important thing, I think, is that he played a full year. We don’t have any reason to have any more concern than we did last winter.”

Cherington does not expect the Red Sox to make any roster additions this week.

A few notes:

• Cherington said Clay Buchholz will have a "normal offseason" and had no medical limitations

• Cherington said catcher will "one of the more interesting positions to watch this offseason" in MLB. He feels there is a potential for trades.

• Dustin Pedroia's thumb surgery is tomorrow. Cherington said regardless of extent of procedure, he should be ready for spring training.

Pedroia needs a ligament repaired and could require what amounts to the Tommy John version of thumb surgery.

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