So, the Red Sox have finally replaced Jonathan Papelbon. The Sox traded outfielder Josh Reddick and minor league prospects Miles Head and Raul Alcantara to Oakland in exchange for closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney, giving new manager Bobby Valentine his man at the back of the bullpen.
The 27-year-old Bailey was the 2009 A.L. Rookie of the Year and was an All-Star in both 2009 and 2010. He has 75 saves in his three major league seasons and boasts a career ERA of 2.07 and a career WHIP of 0.954.
The Red Sox like those statistics but they love his price tag. Eligible for arbitration for the first time, Bailey is expected to command no more than $4-million in 2012. That is significantly lower than the $12.5-million Papelbon will make this season as a part of the 4-year/$50-million deal he got from the Phillies.
While Bailey has the credentials to close, is a much cheaper alternative to Papelbon, and is saying all the right things about his opportunity in Boston, judgement will have to wait to see if the Red Sox have made the right decision on the field. Papelbon had a track record of success in the A.L. East and at Fenway Park and it is a risk for the Red Sox to assume Bailey can step in and immediately fill Papelbon's shoes.
Bailey's transition from Oakland to Boston will be an important story in spring training and early in the season. He needs to be successful to make the Red Sox a factor in the A.L. East and to validate the front office's decision to part with Papelbon.