Not really any surprise in the weekend signing of Jonathan Papelbon to Philadelphia’s 4 year $50 million offer sheet… unless your Ryan Madson. Well, maybe some surprise that a deal of this magnitude for the premier closer in the market actually went down before Thanksgiving… and maybe some surprise that it would be the richest deal for a relief pitcher in baseball history (given that Mariano Rivera is part of the history), but certainly not that Papelbon landed in a Phillies uniform. But there’s no need for ‘Why didn’t the Sox match?” or “Where’s the loyalty..?” or any of that pouty-faced crap.
Toronto management, in recent days, noted how the asking prices from many of the FA closers was seemingly ‘too high’… think it’s going to get better now? The Phillies have built a reputation in recent years of targeting a player they want, then through either trade or free agency, landing him. Nuff’ said. More power to them.
Papelbon, to his credit, lived up to his mercenary foreshadowing. For several years now, Pap’ had only negotiated one-year deals while building towards his dip in the free agent pool (remember a few years ago when he joked about signing with the ‘Bombers to replace Rivera?), knowing he’d make a splash. Yes, there was a surplus (if that word could ever apply) of closers in this year’s FA Market, but Papelbon was the premier closer, ready for the premier closer’s payday and jumped on it. Boston has long said (preparing for moments like these) that they prefer not to pay too heavily for relief pitchers, which is one of those double-edged swords… but either way, congrats to Papelbon for getting a massive, record-setting payday and doing so with a club that will annually contend for a championship. It was also noted that he will continue to wear #58, but will obviously be changing his intro music.
So, technically, if we believe what Ben Cherington would tell us, this should clear the way for the Sox to bring back Big Papi. Since the idea was to bring both back on deals that ‘made sense’, now it’s only Ortiz sense of fairness to deal with and it won’t be cheap to ‘show the love’. Ortiz however is in a much different situation as his options are far more limited. While several teams have ‘talked’ of their interest in Ortiz, many have not been of the big market contending types and none have been from the National League. The Pinstripes have quietly addressed Big Papi, but nothing serious as they have more internal DH candidates than external (hence letting Jorge Posada walk). While I see him landing back at Fenway, if he’s unsigned going into mid-December, it could be just to see what the left-over Prince/Pujols market in the American League will look like and then all bets are off.