The Red Sox are still amenable to reaching a deal with free agent reliever Jonathan Papelbon, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski suggested in comments to MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link).
Last we checked in, a return of Papelbon to Boston — where he made his name as a big leaguer — seemed unlikely. And that may still be the case, especially since the longer Papelbon goes without joining an organization, the more time (and less opportunity) he’ll have to ramp up.
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It seems that the ball remains in Papelbon’s court to move his career forward, as at least the Red Sox, and possibly other organizations, remain interested in signing him. As Dombrowski put it, “he has to decide what he wants to do.” If he has any hopes of throwing in the playoffs, moreover, Papelbon will need to sign within the next week, as post-season rosters cannot include players that joined an organization after the end of August.
Whether Papelbon and his representatives are holding out for more favorable terms, or have other considerations in mind, isn’t really known. But the long-time closer doesn’t seem to have much leverage. Teams may not be willing to give him assurances of how often he’ll pitch or in what role, if they are even willing to commit a major league deal to a hurler who had turned in a career-worst 4.37 ERA and hasn’t pitched in nearly three weeks.
Barring a string of injuries, it’s not clear that the offers will improve, at least from the Red Sox. As Dombrowski characterized things, there doesn’t appear to be much room for negotiation: “We are open, we did call, he has to decide.”