The Phillies have officially acquired Jonathan Papelbon after he passed his physical yesterday. The former Red Sox closer signed a deal worth $50 million over 4 years, or $12.5 per season. And in an offseason that Red Sox fans want to see their team dramatically improve, it looks like they've gotten significantly worse. At the moment, at least.
The Red Sox must fill this loss by acquiring someone else. Bard is simply not good enough, as demonstrated by his performance down the stretch. And Aceves is no guarantee to succeed in the role either. And why not keep him where he is right now?
Heath Bell is a candidate for the job. He's recorded 40+ saves in each of the last three seasons. However, he's 34 years old (Papelbon turns 31 next week), and has no post-season experience. He'll be coming from San Diego to Boston, which is a drastically different environment.
There's 36 year old Francisco Cordero, who has over 300 career Saves, but also has no playoff experience.
There's 31 year old Ryan Madson, who doesn't have much of a track record as a closer before last season.
There's Francisco Rodriguez, who turns 30 in January, has extensive playoff experience, but he hasn't had a 30+ save season since 2009.
So there are options out there, and none of the above closers would be that bad. But none are improvements over Papelbon.
I know $12.5 million is a lot for a relief pitcher, but how much do the Red Sox spend on designated hitters, and oft-injured right-fielders? How about extensions for inconsistent starting pitchers?
I guess my biggest problem is that Papelbon is one of the Red Sox players that was likable. He was actually trying, and seemed to hate losing. He wasn't an elite closer and he can be replaced, but it's just not a pleasant way to begin an offseason.