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Theo Epstein managed to avoid arbitration with closer Jonathan Papelbon for the second straight year, signing him to a one-year, $9.35 million deal, with incentives that could bring the total value to $9.5 million. The contract is the highest for a relief pitcher with four years of service or less, eclipsing Eric Gagne’s $8 million deal in 2005. Seven closers have a salary of $10 million or higher this year in the majors, so Papelbon was just below that total.
Last season with the Red Sox, Papelbon probably had his toughest year as closer, but still finished 38 saves and a 1.85 ERA. He struggled at times with his control, as he allowed 24 walks for a 1.15 WHIP, which is uncharacteristically high for him. He also allowed his first runs and blew his first career save in the playoffs, in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Angels.
Papelbon, of course, knows how valuable he is.
“My whole thing is consistency,” Papelbon said recently. “I’m not one of these guys with a sub-2 ERA one year and a high-3 the next. My whole thing in all of this is the environment you pitch in. Wouldn’t you want a guy to pitch in Boston, New York and Philadelphia who you know has consistently had just three or four blown saves a year. That’s a rarity in itself.”
In other deals to avoid arbitration, the Red Sox signed Manny Delcarmen to a $900,000, one-year deal, and signed Ramon Ramirez to a one-year contract worth $1.1175 million.
Should the Red Sox trade Jonathan Papelbon? Should they sign him long-term? What do you think?