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December 4, 2012

Red Sox pick up Napoli

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Boston Red Sox began to play catch-up by getting All-Star catcher Mike Napoli, Tampa Bay took a chance on James Loney and the New York Yankees prepared for more time minus Alex Rodriguez during a brisk Monday at baseball’s winter meetings.

Soon after the Hall of Fame welcomed three new members from long ago, teams got busy. The World Series champion San Francisco Giants kept center fielder Angel Pagan, while the Texas Rangers brought back catcher Geovany Soto and made a deal for injured closer Joakim Soria.

Top free agent Josh Hamilton remained in play after hitting 43 home runs with 128 RBIs for the Rangers last season.

“I saw Josh on the flight here Sunday by accident. Coincidence, I guess, is a better word than accident,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. “Chatted with him a little bit in the airport. I know he’s here probably to meet with some other teams.”

Quite a contrast to last year’s session, when the Miami Marlins often appeared to be the only player with their high-priced splashes. This time, inside the vast Opryland Hotel complex that houses a studio for famed country music station WSM, several teams had a grand ole time.

Coming off a last-place finish, Boston tried to resolve its catching situation. Napoli got a $39 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

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

The Red Sox are aiming at another prize, too, exploring trade possibilities to pry Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets. Boston GM Ben Cherington didn’t mention the knuckleballer by name, simply saying the price for pitching was “always steep for the better guys.”

Mets manager Terry Collins, meanwhile, left the trade talk to others.

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