Jonathan Papelbon became the first major free agent of the 2011-12 offseason to switch teams, agreeing to a four-year, $50MM contract with the Phillies today that also includes a vesting option for a fifth year. Here is a sample of the reaction to the big signing…
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link) says the Papelbon signing "is classic Philadelphia 21st century stuff: a quick strike, a big name and a lot of money." It's a major commitment to a closer, but Rosenthal points out that Papelbon's numbers are comparable to the first six years of Mariano Rivera's career.
- Rosenthal also notes that it hurts other free agent closers that the free-spending Phillies are no longer in the market for a stopper.
- ESPN's Keith Law trashed the signing, citing the poor history of relievers in multiyear contracts, the fact that the Phils deprived their "depleted" farm system of a first-round draft pick as compensation for Papelbon and his belief that Ryan Madson is the better reliever on the market. Law also projects that Papelbon will allow more home runs pitching at Citizens Bank Park.
- "Papelbon is a safer bet than Madson, basically the same age and with a much longer and better track record as a closer," writes Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. "Madson looked good in 2011, but in a role where success is often a year-to-year thing, it's very easy to say you'd rather have Papelbon."
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports thinks "it’s hard to find much fault with" the signing, given Papelbon's experience pitching in a big market and in important games. Morosi also looks at the rest of the offseason closer market.
- The amount of money the Phillies paid is "stunning," according to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston (Twitter link). "If there was any year to lose your closer, this might be it," Edes writes. "Other options out there, none as good as [Papelbon]."
- The hefty contract and loss of a first round draft pick "seems steep" for Papelbon in the opinion of SI.com's Jon Heyman, but he likes how the Phillies are committed to contending every season. Heyman also thinks the Red Sox will look to sign one of the available closers, due to Daniel Bard's poor numbers during Boston's September collapse (both Twitter links).