It’s 2016, and Jonathan Papelbon might soon be a Red Sox once again. Papelbon asked for his release from the Nationals earlier this week, after learning he was going to be DFA’d. Supposedly the two teams in serious talks with the RHP are the Chicago Cubs and yes: the Boston Red Sox. According to CSN Chicago writer, the odds of Papelbon as a Cub are very unlikely as Chcicago GM Joe Maddon, “doesn’t see Papelbon walking through that door.”
I’ve seen a lot of pro Pap returning to Boston as well as a lot of people running for the hills. The pro arguments include mentions of his part in our 2007 World Series, or the argument that bringing him back is a low risk potentially high reward. The cons lie somewhere along the lines of:
For the fans in favor of a Papelbon return, bringing up his past in Boston, remember this: you’re getting 2016 Papelbon, not 2007 Papelbon. His time in Boston included 219 saves, and four All Star Game appearances.
2016 Papelbon looks more like this, consistently hitting just around 91 mph. No thanks.
In terms of the low risk argument, that’s something I could get behind. The Red Sox currently have the second worst bullpen in the league, with Tazawa being virtually useless and a possibly still injured Kimbrel’s barely getting it done. What’s the harm in bringing in a new guy, someone who performed well for us in the past? If he fails to surpass or even match the current bullpen talent (?) he could easily be gotten rid of. Since the Nationals released Papelbon, they’re responsible for the near $3 million left in his contract for the year.
This is where I go outside Papelbon as a player, and talk about him as a person. Despite how the season has gone for Boston, it’s impossible not to recognize how well this team gets along. From the outfielders photo shoot celebration, to Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley Jr. making cameo dance appearances behind each other’s interviews, this team has chemistry going for them.
Enter Papelbon. The guy who’s leaving his team (a team that leads their division by 8.5 games by the way) because they refused to use him as a closer (understandably), and who denied other teams such as the Phillies for similar reasons. The guy who fought Bryce Harper last fall (his own teammate) in the dugout, after Harper flew out and left the batter’s box half heartedly. Papelbon waited for Harper in the dugout, where he let loose on how Harper’s effort is embarrassing. On the contrary, Cubs pitcher and former teammate of Pap, Jon Lester, vouched for him and hopes to see him come to Chicago.
“He’s crazy,” Lester said. “But he’s no crazier than the rest of us.”
I’m sure now that I’ve written this Papelbon will undoubtedly make the decision to come to Boston, so I apologize in advance.
The good news though is that Clay Buchholz (who must hold the record for most demotions and promotions in one season) is on board with Papelbon in Boston.