The Red Sox have another major hole to fill on their roster because Jonathan Papelbon has reportedly agreed to a 4-year/$50-million contract to join the Philadelphia Phillies. The deal is pending a physical and will not be announced officially until early next week.
Papelbon had a remarkable seven-year career with Boston, starting with an August call-up in 2005 and continuing as the Red Sox closer from 2006-2011. The four-time A.L. All-Star was an integral part of the 2007 that came back from a 3-1 ALCS deficit to defeat the Indians before sweeping the Rockies to win the World Series. Two of the lasting memories from the 2007 team are Papelbon dancing a makeshift Irish jig on the mound at Fenway Park after beating the Indians in Game 7 of the ALCS and also of him jumping into the arms of Jason Varitek after securing the last out of the World Series.
This loss hurts the Red Sox and their fans who had become attached to Papelbon but it is not totally unexpected. Papelbon was always very clear that he intended to enter free agency instead of signing a deal that would have provided him with a lot of money up front but taken away his ability to negotiate on the open market.
Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz signed those kind of contracts.
Papelbon did not and he has now cashed in on seven great years in Boston. I wish him nothing but the best (unless the Red Sox meet the Phillies in the World Series).
The issue now for general manager Ben Cherington is to find Papelbon's replacement. Daniel Bard is the clear in-house candidate to assume the closer's job and (if healthy) Bobby Jenks could also help replace "Cinco Ocho." If the Sox want to add an outside replacement they can choose from Ryan Madson, Heath Bell, Francisco Rodriguez, or Joe Nathan.