After making all kinds of noise this winter about his free agency in 2012, Jonathan Papelbon expressed his desire to stay with the Red Sox long term:
What do you make of the perception that you will seek the biggest contract in free agency and leave the Red Sox after 2011?
Papelbon responded, "I think that’s the perception, that I’m going to go somewhere else, but it’s all a perception. Right now this is the way it’s working out. It’s that simple. It’s one year at a time, it’s working out and both sides are happy. Why would you try to do anything else is my way of thinking. Of course I’d love to be with Boston for a long term."
He continued, "But this is the way it is right now and I’m happy going one year at a time. This is the organization I started in. This is the organization that gave me the opportunity to play major league baseball. Of course I’d love to stay here for 15 years. Right now one year at a time is the way it’s working and I’m happy and everyone else is happy, so why not."
While Papelbon stating that he wants to stay in Boston is newsworthy, what will ultimately decide his fate in Boston is if the Red Sox want to keep him around.
Yes, Papelbon is a tremendous talent and is one of the top closers in baseball, but it's hard to imagine the Red Sox giving him the huge contract that he is thought to be after.
Even though Papelbon's free agency is two years away, I can tell you right now that his contract expectations beyond 2012 will play a major role in figuring out his future with the Red Sox.
If he expects to break records and set a new standard for contracts given to a closer, then I imagine Papelbon will have to go elsewhere.
But if Papelbon's price comes down, let's say to somewhere in the three-years/$36 million range (K-Rod money), then does anyone think the Red Sox would pass that up?
They might, but given the expected rise of fireballer Daniel Bard, it would not surprise me to see the Sox pass on Papelbon altogether after the 2011 season.