Jonathan Papelbon had a rough 2010. He blew eight of his 45 save opportunities, almost 20 percent. His ERA skyrocketed to 3.90, up two full runs from the previous season. And, most importantly, the Boston Red Sox missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
2011 hasn't been much kinder. His WHIP is 1.23, nearly matching the 1.27 he put up last season, and his ERA is up again to 4.50.
There's long been talk about the end of the Papelbon era in Boston. Danny Bard and his 100 mile per hour fast ball look to be a closer in waiting. If Papelbon continues to struggle, his $12 million dollar contract begins to look like an albatross compared to Bard's $505,000.
Boston fans are fiercely loyal and will hate to see Papelbon go. The fans are also "right-now winners," and unless something goes terribly wrong, Papelbon will probably finish the year in Boston. But he is a free agent this summer, and the Red Sox wouldn't want to be LeBron-ified, so if they can get good value for him right now, they'll look into it.