Boston Red Sox: Papelbon Signs with Phillies, What Now for Sox?

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Boston Red Sox: Papelbon Signs with Phillies, What Now for Sox?
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According to a report on CSNPhilly.com, the Philadelphia Phillies have come to an agreement with Jonathan Papelbon on a four year deal, pending a physical, to become their next closer. 

The signing comes after a deal with Ryan Madson, the Philllies closer in 2011, fell through a couple of a days ago.

But what does this mean for the Boston Red Sox?

For one, they now have another void to fill in their 2012 roster. The closer position could be filled either internally or externally.

Heir apparent, Daniel Bard, could step in and take the role but after a shaky September, concerns arose as to whether or not he is ready to step in and take on the closer role in Boston.

Down the stretch in September, Bard posted a 10.64 ERA in 11 innings when the Red Sox needed him to come through the most. In the highest pressure situations, Bard folded. In addition to the horrid ERA, Bard also blew three saves in September, five in total in 2011.

If the Red Sox decided not to put Bard in the closer role, their are external options that can be acquired.

They could go ahead and sign former Phillies closer Ryan Madson, who had an excellent 2011 with an ERA of 2.47 and 32 saves. 

But 2011 was Madson's first full year as a closer so it is unknown as to whether or not he can be productive in that role long term.

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Of the rest of the free agent closers, Heath Bell is probably the best available. He has posted three consecutive seasons of 40+ saves for the San Diego Padres with 43 in 48 opportunities in 2011.

Bell will probably be looking for a multi-year deal which may scare the Red Sox away, as he is already 34-years-old. But he seems to have entered his prime much later than the normal major league player with his best seasons coming at the ages of 32, 33 and 34.

Other free agent options include Francisco Cordero, Jonathan Broxton, Frank Francisco, Joe Nathan and Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez.

A last resort for the Red Sox would be to explore a trade, as they would likely have to give a good package of prospects in return for any closer on the trade market.

Options could include Andre Bailey of Oakland, Joel Hanrahan of the Pirates or JJ Putz of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Either way, new General Manager Ben Cherington's job just got a lot more difficult now having to replace Papelbon, one of the emotional leaders in the clubhouse during his tenure.

With the Papelbon deal supposedly worth near $50 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the market for closers is likely to be one that is insanely over priced this offseason. That being said, it would be wise of Cherington to slot Bard into the role and see if he can handle it. 

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