It was reported by Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman through his Twitter feed that the legendary closer for the New York Yankees Mariano Rivera is close to signing a 2-year 30 million dollar contract. Heyman also revealed that there were other teams interested in retaining his services included the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Yankees' division and historic rival the Boston Red Sox.
So let's just say that we live in some bizarro world and Mariano had signed with Boston. A question would have remained unanswered: What would have happened to Jonathan Papelbon. It would be feasible that the Red Sox could keep both to arguably have the best bullpen in Baseball. The thought of having Josh Bard, Jonathan Papelbon and Mariano Rivera as the 7-8-9 innings option is just downright scary. According to Gordon Eddes of ESPNBoston.com, the Red Sox were planned to non-tender Papelbon thereby releasing him making him a free-agent if in fact they had signed Mariano.
Knowing that, does the intended free agent pursuit of Mariano Rivera finally destroy the relationship between the Red Sox and Papelbon? As it is the relationship has been rocky to say the least. Compounding the issue is the point of view from the Red Sox that Papelbon has been in decline since his 2006 season when he posted a 4-2 record with a 0.92 ERA with 35 saves in 59 games. Papelbon struck out 75 batters while walking only 13 and giving up 40 hits in 68.1 innings for a WHIP of 0.776. Compare that with this past season where Papelbon posted a 5-7 record with a 3.90 ERA with 37 saves in 65 games. Papelbon struck out 76 batters while walking a career high 28 and giving up 57 hits in 67 innings for a WHIP of 1.269. Add to the mix the fact that Papelbon has been at odds with the team due to Papelbon's inability to admit to his mistakes when said mistakes led to losses by the team.
To be honest, I never believed that Papelbon would resign with the team after his current contract ended. I have heard for years that Papelbon wants to return to a starting role and that will not happen in Boston. In the case of Rivera being signed by the Red Sox to replace Papelbon, there is no shame in being replaced by the best closer in the game. But then again it's easy for me to say since he's not coming to replace me. We'll see how the drama unfolds from Beantown this upcoming season.
For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Michael S. Schmidt's article from the NYTimes.com webpage from December 3, 2010 called Rivera and Yanks Near Two-Year Deal
- Click Here for Gordon Eddes article from the ESPNBoston.com webpage from December 3, 2010 called Source: Sox courted Mariano Rivera
- Click Here for Nick Cafardo's article from the Boston.com webpage from December 3, 2010 called Sox pursued Mariano?
- Click Here for Johnathan Papelbon's career statistics from Baseball-Reference.com