Catching on: Pirates ink Martin; Red Sox sign Napoli

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Boston, MA, United States (4E Sports) – The Boston Red Sox have signed free agent first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli to a three-year, $39 million contract, giving the team another option behind the plate if needed.

The Pittsburgh Pirates also satisfied their need for a catcher after signing free agent Russell Martin to a two-year, $17 million deal, pending physical.

Napoli is expected to play first base for the Red Sox but he could see action behind the plate if the Red Sox decide to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the winter meetings.

Last season, Napoli caught 72 games for the Texas Rangers and hit .227 with 24 homers and 56 RBIs. In 2009, he caught a career-high 96 games for the Los Angeles Angels.

He also saw time at first base during his stint with the Angels when Kendrys Morales fractured his leg in a freak accident.

“I just want to play,” Napoli recently told ESPN.com. “I feel the most comfortable behind the plate because that’s where most of my reps have been. Do I think I can be good at first base if I had reps and practiced it all the time? Yes.”

Napoli has an outstanding career numbers at Fenway Park, where he is 19-for-62 with seven homers and four doubles in 74 plate appearances.

Meanwhile, Martin agreed to a deal with the Pirates after rejecting the New York Yankees’ three-year extension worth around $20 million.

Martin will join former Yankee teammate A.J. Burnett in Pittsburgh, who was traded by New York with two years left in his deal.

The Yankees have Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine to replace Martin as starter.

Martin hit just .211 but had 21 home runs and 53 RBI in 133 games for the Yankees last season.

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