Trade Candidate? Jonathon Papelbon?
By Chris Cue
Thurs. Feb. 4, 2011
If you’ve been keeping up with anything to do with the Red Sox recently in the press, then you know that this thought is out there. “Will the Red Sox look to trade Papelbon by mid-season?” is the question being asked. The argument….or rather….the thought is that the Red Sox will not offer him arbitration at season’s end because Paps might accept that offer which would put the Sox on the hook for a salary north of the $12.5 million he’s going to make this year. By not offering Papelbon arbitration, the Sox would effectively be letting him walk without getting anything in return (otherwise known as draft picks). So, the idea has been floated that the Sox might look to trade him before the deadline which would net them some sort of return.
Here are the problems with that in my humble opinion.
Problem #1: Papelbon’s 2011 salary is a hefty one for a closer. In order for the Sox to trade him and not have to eat any of that salary, Papelbon is going to have to perform like the Papelbon of old and appear to be worth that kind of cash commitment. Here’s the issue with that…..If Paps indeed is pitching up to that value, then why on earth would the Sox look to weaken the Bullpen by trading an elite closer? It makes zero sense. The Bullpen was a major sore spot for the Sox last season. It’s hard to believe that Theo Epstein would be lookiing to trade away an important part of the 2011 season solely for the hope of getting some sort of return.
Problem #2: If Papelbon isn’t performing, what team in their right mind is going to pick up that salary and also give the Sox a player or two for his services? Again, this doesn’t make sense. If Papelbon isn’t performing up to the level of an elite closer, then what’s his value going to be considering his salary? Call me crazy, but unless there is some team out there at the time that is extremely desperate, I don’t see a lot of interest in a $12 million closer that isn’t cutting it.
Let’s face it, if his 2010 struggles continue, then the Sox will simply replace him with either Jenks or Bard and use Paps in the 8th inning. That’s a worst case scenario. The more likely outcome of the upcoming season is that Paps will indeed have a bounce back year. If that’s the case, then he isn’t going anywhere.
Bottom line, like it or not, I think you can expect Papelbon to be with the Red Sox for the entire 2011 season.