MLB Free Agency: Evaluating the Jonathan Papelbon Signing for All Involved
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As reported by several news outlets all over the nation, Jonathan Papelbon is shipping out of Boston for the first time in his MLB career. Papelbon is reportedly heading over to Philadelphia in what is reportedly a four year contract that is rumored to be worth up to $60 million dollars. This will be the first big splash on the 2011 MLB free agency market this fall. Leaving Beantown after a seven year tenure including one World Series championship victory, the heart, soul and passion of the Boston Red Sox is now gone and heading to greener pastures.
Being the next staple in the organization to exit arguably the most successful baseball franchise over the past decade, joining Theo Epstein and Terry Francona, Papelbon will be leaving a big gap in not only the Red Sox bullpen, but the heart of the organization as a whole. Being one of the most charismatic and lively names on a practically bland baseball team, Papelbon will now bring his services to a comfortable deal in the National League East.
Being one of the most successful closers in baseball over the past decade, Papelbon is coming off of a very good season with 31 saves in 34 opportunities with an ERA of 2.33. However, two of his key blown saves were a major part in the historic Boston collapse, this past September. Nonetheless, this comeback year filled with dominance has granted the electric Papelbon a historic contract.
Evaluating this deal from both ends of the spectrum, one can only believe that the Philadelphia Phillies had essentially overpaid a man with a large ego, a contract with too many years and far too much money. Stars with big heads sometimes become quite lazy when getting a secure contract such as this.
Was this a good signing by the Phillies
Also, despite a great year, Papelbon is not getting any younger, and although closers can seem to evolve with age into more consistent closers, you always have to question whether Papelbon will be able to adapt in a similar fashion as Mariano Rivera and Heath Bell. In terms of a long term investment, this was a very questionable signing by Ruben Amaro Jr. and company.
One quality of Papelbon that Philadelphia will be ecstatic to know of is Jon's domination in the MLB Playoffs as well as his ability to work well in high pressure situations, as proven in Boston up to 2010. While there may be questioning in terms of consistency given such a fat contract, there are no doubts that Papelbon will make an easy transition from the devastatingly competitive, AL East division.
In terms of what is next for Boston, one can only say that the greatest closer in Red Sox history is heading in a similar direction as the greatest manager and general manager in history, which is away from Beantown.
Holding out for arbitration deals over the years in order to challenge the free agency market in 2011 had really paid off, as his agents advised previously.
Then again, Boston has many options to replace Papelbon, such as the 26 year old, human flamethrower, Daniel Bard, or the veteran Bobby Jenks. There are also many strong closers on the free agent market including the likes of Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell and Ryan Madson. All of which will be cheaper than Papelbon, as no team will reach the rumored $60 million dollars he will be bestowed over the next four to five years.
When viewing this perspective from a wider scope, this acquisition is clearly an example of overpaying a one inning pitcher, who may only give dominance in half of his contract. It's a sink or swim signing and while this columnist is not declaring it a flop, you know it is a questionable deal when $60 million dollars is thrown to a relief pitcher.
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