Jonathan Papelbon took over as the Red Sox closer in 2006 and between 2006-10 he has compiled 188 saves, averaging 38 per season, with an ERA of 2.18. Paps was one of the most dominate closers in the game over that time span, but the last couple years we have seen his ERA and WHIP continue to rise, but he still continues to save games like the best of 'em.
In 2010, Papelbon's ERA was 3.90 and currently his ERA sits at 3.93 but he still has 20 saves. It is very likely that he is going to want a contract similar to that of Francisco Rodriguez who received an annual salary of almost $11 million per season from the Mets (and was recently traded to the Brewers).
It is likely that the Red Sox signed Bobby Jenks in case they were unable to agree to a new contract with Papelbon. If that is not their plan, they could decide to go with young fireballer Daniel Bard as the closer next season.
While many agree that Bard is likely to be the closer, the biggest issue will be whether or not he can handle pressure situations. Here are a few numbers to prove that Bard cannot handle the big stage:
Career Away: 86 games, 1-8, 3.87 ERA, 103 K's, 45 BB, 9 blown saves
Career vs NYY: 22 games, 1-1, 4.26 ERA, 20 K's, 11 BB, 6 home runs allowed
Career w/ Runners on: 4.79 ERA, 81 K's, 31 BB
Career w/ RISP: 5.77 ERA, 53 K's, 25 BB
As long as Bard pitches at home and not against the Yankees, he is great, but its very possible that the Sox could play the Yankees in the ALCS, and do you want him on the mound in a Game 7?
One thing no one can deny about Papelbon is that he is a big game pitcher. His postseason ERA is 1.00 in 18 games.
The Sox could sign K-Rod if he becomes a free agent or perhaps Kerry Wood. However, I think it is very likely that the Sox make every attempt to re-sign Papelbon because even though he hasn't been the same pitcher the last couple years, he is still great when it counts.