Open The Door To The Closer: Should The Red Sox Trade For Jonathan Papelbon?

Ever since Jonathan Papelbon took the midnight train to Philly at the end of the 2011 season, the Red Sox closer role has been in a constant state of flux. Fans who had tired of his schtick soon realized that they had grown much more annoyed with the mismanagement and send in the clowns parade that left a gaping hole in his wake.

May 3, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (58) delivers to the plate during the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Marlins 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Bailey was secured in the offseason from Oakland and Daniel Bard was moved into the starting rotation. We all know how that turned out. Today Bard continues to look under every rock for control and consistency while Bailey seemingly trips over every rock. He injured his thumb in the spring of 2012, was out most of the season and predictably wasn’t right even when he came back to replace Sox head case poster boy Alfredo Aceves. This year he moved in and out of the closer role with Joel Hanrahan until Hanrahan flamed out spectacularly only five weeks into the regular season.

Meanwhile, Papelbon is motoring right along this year; 17 appearances, 8 saves in 8 save opportunities and a 1.02 ERA. Yeah, the old girlfriend looks so much better when you see her dating another guy. Which brings us to today’s Red Sox Roundtable discussion: Should the Red Sox trade for Jonathan Papelbon and, if so, what trade would you put together?

Personally, I’m ready to bring back the Pap. He’ll be 33 in July, hasn’t lost much velocity and appears to be learning to be as deceptive now as he once wasoverpowering. Here’s the catch; the reason he left in the first place was because Boston wouldn’t offer him a multi-year deal. This time around the Sox will have to be bold and offer him a two to three-year package.

Now it’s your turn. What kind of deal would Boston have to offer to make it good enough for Philly to let him go? Or, should the deal be made at all? Our BSI staff – Adian, Conor, Earl, Harry, John and Paul (got two get two more writers named George and Ringo) – will be weighing in. Let ‘s get this party started. Jump in all!

Should The Red Sox Trade For Jonathan Papelbon?

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Topics: Boston Red Sox

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  • John Fahrer

    Though Bailey’s been hurt, he’s been good for the most part and he’s not eligible for free agency until after 2014. Papelbon’s good, but he’s 32 and a $13 million salary is too much to take for a reliever who only makes 68 appearances per season. Not to mention we’d be giving up prospects to fill-in an area that’s already being filled (though Bailey would likely be included in the deal).

    Just not worth it to trade prospects for a closer. If Bailey falters, give Rubby DeLaRosa a chance. Have a feeling his stuff could translate very well into the closer’s role. But let’s save the prospects for a difference-making bat or another frontline starter.

    • John Fahrer

      Ironically going the Rubby route is a similar blueprint to how Papelbon wound up as our closer.

      Once again, nothing against Papelbon, but not willing to give up prospects for nor pay $13 million for a reliever not named Mariano Rivera. In his worst season, Rivera had a 1.121 WHIP. Way better than Papelbon’s 2010 season: 1.269 (he blew several save opportunities that year. Cost the club a chance to make it to the postseason). Papelbon’s good, but he’s mortal.

      • Michael Macaulay-Birks

        he blew some big games for us too, don’t forget…Robert Andino anyone? I want to see a bigger (a season) of Bailey personally….
        (I live in Orlando, and go to most of the Rays-Sox games and I am almost certain I witnessed more than 1 blown saves over his tenure)

        • John Fahrer

          Bailey will be fine. If he starts to struggle, they should turn to DeLaRosa.

          • stephenepeterson

            I’ve got to be honest, these are crappy options. Contending teams need a shut down guy. Neither Bailey or De La Rosa qualify.

        • stephenepeterson

          I think that’s because he appeared in so many games. The odds are bound to catch up with him. He’s no Mariano Rivera but then again no one is :)

  • SoxGuy

    Why on earth would that ever be a consideration?

  • Rick M

    Back to the future? A multi year deal for a guy we passed on over a multi year deal and now we shovel potential top of the line prospects? Makes no sense. And Philly is just chomping at the bit to trade? Bailey needs the shot and Sox fans need patience. Bailey has done fine in 2013 with limited service and he has been productive when he stays in one piece.

    • John Fahrer

      If they even did actually re-acquire him, the idea of extending him beyond his 2016 (age 35) season is even more ludicrous.

  • Paul Prims

    I would not trade for Paps. I was not one that wanted him gone but at this point that ship has sailed. Hope Bailey can stay healthy and save the prospects for a slugger or frontline starter. If Bailey is injured go Tazawa/Rubby/Uehara

  • John Fahrer

    Don’t know if it was completely a matter of not being able to afford him at the time. It probably was also a matter of genuinely not wanting to pay him that amount of money even if they could afford it. Just not a good business practice. That contract is just ridiculous. Rivera never even got that much guaranteed in a contract.

    Once again, I’d rather take on Lee’s salary. I know it’s twice as much per season. But at least he’s logging over three times as many innings.

  • http://bosoxinjection.com/ Earl Nash

    Pap 2013: 8 SVs 1.02 ERA .0623 WHIP 17 GF

    2014, led NL with 64 GF
    Ranks behind
    #327. Tom Gordon

    in Baseball Reference
    [http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/papeljo01.shtml]

    IF there was a possible trade, the Phils would be looking to replace Michael Young [37] and relegate him to UT, as he plays all four INF positions.

    They would likely be seeking:

    Garin Cecchini

    Rank: 9

    ETA: 2014

    Position: 3B

    Age: 22, DOB: 04/20/1991

    Bats: L, Throws: R

    Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 200

    Drafted: 2010, 4th (143) – BOS

    Pap’s SVs are very expensive, but I do worry about the reliability of “Thumbalina” Bailey, so Rubby De la Rosa would be the best guy to close, if Bailey goes DL.

  • Aidan Flynn

    Bailey is fine, I would not trade for Paps for the reason(s) cited by many of my colleagues. Given the price tag and the fact that the Sox have capable guys already, I would pass.

  • stephenepeterson

    Great dialog and food for thought one and all. I’m with you on Bailey but his fragility to date in Sox uniform is a concern. De La Rosa is an awesome wildcard consideration.

    • John Fahrer

      It’s the best route to go rather than trade up for an expensive closer. It’s also similar to how they wound up with Papelbon as the closer in the first place. Keith Foulke’s durability was never the same after his amazing 04 postseason performance. In 06, Foulke was still injury prone, and Mike Timlin (not unlike Tazawa) just wasn’t comfortable in the ninth. Enter Jonathan Papelbon who’s stuff was best suited for the ninth.

      DeLaRosa can be a combination of that scenario and a young Mariano Rivera in 96. Bailey will be withe the club in 2014. Have DeLaRosa be a high-leverage setup guy like Rivera was before ultimately taking over.

  • stephenepeterson

    For the record, after 144 votes, 62% of the voters think that a trade for Papelbon would be a good idea. That’s why we post and comment :) Great conversation all!

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