BOSTON -- The Red Sox added both Brad Ziegler and Fernando Abad to help with the bullpen needs prior to the trade deadline, but that hasn’t quite been enough.
Koji Uehara is on the disabled list. Craig Kimbrel still has off and on issues with his knee. Ziegler’s had his tough days. And Abad has been, well, bad. The only reliever who’s been consistent of late is Matt Barnes. Before Saturday’s game, however, another option came into the fray and no one has to trade a prospect to get him.
The newest major free agent, following Alex Rodriguez (technically), to hit the market is Jonathan Papelbon, who was released by the Washington Nationals prior to Saturday’s game.
Although the former All-Star closer for the Red Sox hasn’t been a choirboy since leaving Boston -- for more money -- he’s been getting results.
The righty has averaged 30 saves a season since leaving Boston in 2012, posting a 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings rate, despite losing significant velocity on his fastball.
Although the six-time All-Star has had success in recent years and could give the Boston pen a spark, he doesn’t seem to be on the radar. Not more than any other free agent at least.
“We know he’s a free agent,” John Farrell said when asked about Papelbon prior to Saturday’s game. “We know he’s out there. And like I said, with any player that’s available, we’ll certainly talk about it, but that’s yet to be had.”
But just because the Red Sox haven't discussed Papelbon, doesn't mean he's not an option as Dave Dombrowski told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
Asked about interest in Jonathan Papelbon, Dave Dombrowski responded, "At this point, is worth investigating."— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) August 13, 2016
One of the issues with Papelbon hasn’t necessarily just been performance based either. In Philadelphia, he didn’t want to play for a losing team. Somewhat understandable when you’re job becomes useless if the team’s not already winning when you enter a game. But now -- when he’s having a down year for a winning Washington ball club -- he wanted out because he’s not closing with the acquisition of Mark Melancon. And that’s definitely something to question for a team like Boston, who already has a big-time closer they’ve committed to.
“I’d have to read up on more about his decision to leave Washington and all that kind of stuff,” Kimbrel said after his pregame routine before Saturday’s game. “I really don’t know the full story of it.”
But when it came to Papelbon’s performance when he finished games off for Boston, Kimbrel knew plenty.
“Yeah he was great coming up in the Boston organization,” Kimbrel said. “He was one of the best closers in the game in Boston.”
Now with Kimbrel’s case especially, the worry doesn’t seem to be that Papelbon would take his job -- with good reason.
It’s more of the divide Papelbon could create if he did join the Red Sox as anything but a closer.
Because if anyone knows that players will sign saying they can do “X” but really want to do “Y”, it’s the Red Sox -- i.e. Hanley Ramirez playing left field.