Jonathan Papelbon’s act has worn thin in Philly; could a Red Sox return be in the cards?


Former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was a hot topic on Twitter last night when, after face-planting in a save opportunity against the Marlins, he responded to the jeers of Philadelphia fans by apparently making an obscene gesture. Papelbon was subsequently ejected by second base umpire Joe West.

The closer, for the record, said he was “making an adjustment,” and it’s not unusual for baseball players, particularly pitchers, to adjust their…um…equipment…in full public view. For his part, West has never been one to shy away from the limelight.

Regardless of the intent or result, it seems like Papelbon’s act has worn thin in Philly, a city prone to irrational sporting mood swings (sound familiar?) and tired of watching a mediocre baseball team burdened by Ruben Amaro’s foolish multi-year veteran deals. Papelbon’s personality, Gronkowski-like at times and prone to bristling, (at least tolerable in a winning situation), can be grating when a team is losing.

More from Red Sox Rumors

Other than yesterday’s calamity, the losing generally hasn’t been as a result of Papelbon’s individual performance. He’s continued down the path in Philly as arguably the most effective closer of the last decade, clocking 29 or more saves in nine consecutive seasons. The five-time All-Star has 37 saves, a 2.10 ERA and 0.90 WHIP with 61 strikeouts in 64 and 1/3 innings pitched this year. He has one year left on his contract, at $13 million.

With incumbent Red Sox closer Koji Uehara‘s return uncertain after he came apart in 2014 under manager John Farrell‘s heavy workload, it appears the closer position is up for grabs headed into 2015. Uehara will be 40 in April, the Sox aren’t likely to offer him a huge payday, and Edward Mujica, though he’s allowed just five earned runs the last two months, hasn’t exactly inspired confidence over his first season in Boston.

Given the poor performance of the club this year, the Sox are projected as big spenders this offseason and should want to supplement a shiny, retooled team with stability at the back end of the bullpen. Might the Red Sox be a potential suitor for Papelbon should the Phillies choose to move on?

Since the closer departed for Amaro’s offer of four years and $50 million in the fall of 2011, the Red Sox have found that saves don’t have to come at such a premium price. But the Phillies have also indicated they’d be willing to eat some of Papelbon’s salary.

Thus far, Amaro has failed to move vets like Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels, as it appears his asking price has been too high. With Papelbon entering persona non grata territory in Philly, it may force his hand.