When Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said that the Phillies were going to be active this off-season, it didn't take him long to make a splash. It was announced today that the Phillies signed former Boston Red Sox closer Johnathan Papelbon to a 4-year $50-Million dollar contract with a vestibg option for a fifth year. In doing so, the Phillies shore up a big hole in their bullpen since former closer Brad Lidge and reliever Ryan Madson are both free agents.
What do the Phillies get? They get a 30-year old closer who since coming up for the Red Sox in 2005 complied a 23-19 record with a 2.33 ERA in 429.1 innings pitched. Papelbon struck out 509, walked 115 and gave up 322 hits for a WHIP of 1.018. He recorded 219 saves in the ultra competitive American League East and under the scrutiny of some of the most demanding Baseball fans in the league. Pitching under pressure is something that Papelbon was used to on a daily basis. A pressure that will not subside by playing in Philadelphia. The Phillies rotation has some strong bookends with their vaunted starting rotation and now Papelbon to shut games down.
Considering that Papelbon had expressed his desire to test the free-agent market numerous times, I believe that it's no surprise that he jumped at the offer made by the Phillies. So where does this leave Boston?
I think (and personally believe) that the Red Sox can adequately replace Papelbon either from within or through free-agency. They have hard throwing Daniel Bard who would be the logical choice to close. They also have Bobby Jenks who can get some saves if he comes back from injury. On the free-agent front, there's a plethora of potential closets such as Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell. Joe Nathan, Jonathan Broxton the aforementioned Ryan Madson.
So don't fret too much Red Sox nation, there's hope that the hole left by Papelbon's departure will be filled soon by new GM Ben Cherington.