This winter the Red Sox made an offer they knew would likely be refused when they put a three-year, $51MM contract in front of Mariano Rivera. As expected, the legendary closer opted to remain in the Bronx where he wishes to finish his career. Some reports have said that Rivera's arrival in Boston would have meant that the club would then deal Jonathan Papelbon elsewhere. We may never know if that was the plan but major league GMs have said that the BoSox have been listening to offers for the outspoken closer.
Now Papelbon and Theo Epstein are set to go to arbitration as the 30-year-old seeks $11.5MM in 2011, his final year before free agency. The right-hander had a down year this past season, turning in a 3.90 ERA 3.8 BB/9, though his 10.2 K/9 was only a shade below his career average. Boston probably can't expect equal talent in return for the pricey pitcher, but with Bobby Jenks now in the fold and Daniel Bard potentially ready to take over as closer, they could afford to move Papelbon. Alternatively, they can hang on to him through 2011, at which point they could either re-sign him or receive compensation in the form of a draft pick from another club.