Ever since Jonathan Papelbon left the Boston Red Sox and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012, the Red Sox closer situation has been a revolving door. With the Phillies aging and Papelbon no longer on a winning team, I think it’s time for the Red Sox to consider making the trade that brings their all-time saves leader back to Boston.
The Red Sox have attempted to replace Papelbon with so many players since he left after the 2011 season. The team even traded away their young prize outfielder Josh Reddick to the Oakland A’s for the former all-star closer Andrew Bailey. Since Bailey has put on the Boston uniform, he has looked far removed from the two-time all-star that he was in Oakland.
Bailey injured his thumb in the spring of 2012, was out most of the season and wasn’t the same player when he returned from injury. During the 32 games he did play last season, he had a 7.04 ERA with six saves and three blown saves. Bailey was moved to the set-up role in 2012, but then moved back into the closer role after former closer Joel Hanrahan was a completely disaster. Even with Bailey returning from the DL, I’m not sure this is the guy you want closing games out on a contending team
Hanrahan was thought to be the elite closer that the Red Sox have been looking for since Papelbon’s exit, but he’s struggled with late game walks and closing out games before undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 16.
Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa are good set-up relievers, but neither one has must experience saving games on a major league level. That’s why the Red Sox organization should considering Papelbon.
In 17 appearances in 2013, Papelbon has eight saves in eight save opportunities and a 1.02 ERA. Thoughts of Papelbon being past his prime are nonsensical. Yes Papelbon maybe doesn’t throw the as fast as he did when he first came into the majors, but he’s better at locating pitches at age 33.
For fans that saying they are angry because of the comments he made after leaving Boston, remember he only left because Boston wouldn’t offer him a multi-year deal.
With the Red Sox in the middle of a race in the American League East, it’s important to have a quality, all-star closer. While I don’t know what the Red Sox should give up for Papelbon. What I do know is if they’re going to contend in 2013, they need a quality closer. Jonathan Papelbon is still that quality all-star closer.