The Red Sox are in a precarious situation with Jonathan Papelbon. Well, not really.
Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reported a month ago that Papelbon would like to be the "number one guy" during free agency after the 2011 campaign. That would essentially mean that the one-year deal the Sox just tossed to Papelbon to avoid arbitration (worth $12M) would be more of a lease on the closer.
Even if he does leave town next year, he will likely still bring some relevant draft picks to Boston. With the addition of Bobby Jenks and the emergence of Daniel Bard, Papelbon is certainly not that big of a worry in Boston.
On one side of the coin, the Red Sox could really benefit from a trade of Papelbon this season, mainly due to the fact that he will net them nothing next year when/if he leaves. If Boston can net an outfielder, they would have the best outfield in the league.
Conversely, if the Sox can put together a run this year, Papelbon might offer the home town discount to Boston. I don't know why he wouldn't. Boston has been the biggest winner during the offseason with the key additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.
Hypothetically, because this is all us baseball fans at the moment, let's take a look at 5 possible deals should another club take a chance on Papelbon before he's a free agent.
When you remove the facts that Volquez is recently back from Tommy John surgery and fresh off a 50-game suspension that crippled him last season, Volquez is a bargain bin player.
If the Red Sox could work a deal that would net them some cash considerations as well as an additional player, this could be a very attractive move for both teams.
The Reds are right where they need to be, and if Papelbon joined the bullpen with Cordero, the Reds would have the part necessary to shut down games in the late innings.
The only problem is that Edinson Volquez hasn't showed up to spring training check-ins. In fact, he's the last Red unaccounted for. Boston might not want to deal with his antics.
Volquez is penciled in as the No.1 starter in Cincy, and after a mediocre last couple of seasons, fans such as myself are hoping to see his 2008 numbers resurface, a season in which he posted 17 wins and a 3.21 ERA.
Volquez recently turned down a four-year deal this offseason, opting instead to sign a one-year, $1.65M contract in hopes he can bolster his value during the 2011 campaign. Given that, I don't see where he would be off limits in any sense.
If the Red Sox could pull this off, it would set up an offseason similar to what the Miami Heat experienced in basketball.
The big problem here? Contracts.
David Wright is due $13M this season, and is contracted through 2013. His salary goes up by a million during each of the next 3 seasons.
Let's just play with the idea that Boston can pick up the slack.
David Wright is part of a puzzle on the Mets. If he leaves, it would trigger a full-blown rebuild period. In some ways, it's what some Mets fans want.
Not that they want to see Wright leave, it's more of a movement towards progress.
Papelbon at 30 years old isn't exactly a good fit in the rebuilding scheme. It would purely be a contract relief effort for New York, and Papelbon would be baggage in relative terms.
Don't bank on this one, and to reiterate the hypothetical nature of this piece, don't bank on any of these options. Papelbon has stated to the press that he doesn't understand why people think he's leaving town, and on paper, Papelbon will be back for at least one-more year.
The only thing that makes it interesting is the Boston Herald reporting that Papelbon deals will be listened to throughout spring training.
That's what keeps the hot stove firing.
Michael Young is in a situation he can't be too excited for.
With the addition of Adrian Beltre, Michael Young will look to fill a role that he hasn't been forced to do yet in his career, but he's embraced the possible DH role quite respectably.
Jonathan Papelbon is coming off his worst season in the big's, going 5-7 with a 3.90 ERA, blowing eight saves.
Michael Young suffered a 40 point drop in his batting average, still registering at .284.
Not to say it would be a trade involving two players coming off mediocre years, it's just a nice fit since Boston just dished their third-baseman earlier in the offseason.
This one is more speculative than any of the other ideas.
Hunter Pence is scheduled for an arbitration hearing on the 18th of February and will likely settle for a one-year deal worth $1.5M less then he anticipated. Houston has offered $5.15 while Pence wants something in the ballpark of $6.75M next season.
Pence is eligible for arbitration next season as well, so this will almost be a practice run if he doesn't sign more then a one-year deal.
Given the salaries, the Red Sox would probably have to eat some of Papelbon's $12M salary.
The question is whether or not the Astros really even want Papelbon, or vice-versa for Boston. Brandon Lyon is in the closer role, and for Houston it's more of the idea of Papelbon and Lyon setting each other up.
Pence is a great young talent who will likely leave his arbitration meeting disgruntled.
Given that, I think this swap would benefit both squads equally. For the Red Sox, it's pretty easy to hypothesize deals that involved dishing Papelbon with Bobby Jenks and Daniel Bard in the conversation.
Sizemore is a force if he's caught during an in-tune year. Unfortunately, last year wasn't on of those years.
Playing in only 33 games, Sizemore amassed an average of only .211. He was hurt the entire season, a big blow to the Tribe.
Papelbon could certainly help the Indians bullpen, perhaps moving Chris Perez to a set-up man, or vice-versa.
Sizemore would be a great fit in Boston which would allow for a starting outfield consisting of Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Grady Sizemore.
The contracts make sense. Sizemore is due eight-and-a-half million this season, and is free after 2012. The Sox would have to shoulder some future contract money, but if the Indians want Papelbon, a deal might take place.