It looked as though the Phillies were going to resign closer Ryan Madson but the deal seemed to fall apart.
Instead they plucked former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon off the free-agent market. The deal is believed to be worth $50 million over four years.
It also includes a vesting option for a fifth year. The contract could reach $60 million when it’s all said and done.
The deal is the richest in MLB history for a closer. It will surpass the five-year, $45 million pact that B.J. Ryan signed with the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2005.
Papelbon was 4-1 with a 2.94 ERA with 31 saves in 63 appearances this year. He has a career 2.33 ERA and 219 saves over his big-league career.
But did the Phillies sign the right closer?
Obviously there’s not as much ground to compare because Madson was only a full-time closer this season while Papelbon has been doing it for seven years.
In 2011, Madson was 4-2 with a 2.37 ERA and had 32 saves. He struck out 62 batters while walking just 16.
Papelbon’s numbers were comparable as he went 4-1 with a 2.94 ERA and had 31 saves. He had 87 strikeouts and only issued 10 free passes.
It was a down year for Papelbon as he blew eight saves and had the second-highest ERA of his career. But the numbers are still very even.
Papelbon has been doing it over a much longer period of time. He is a four-time All Star and also has a closer’s pedigree.
He was hyped from the very beginning as he finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting back in 2006. Justin Verlander ended up snagging the honor.
Papelbon did seem to slow down late in the season as he looked gassed during the last few weeks of the season including the blown save on the final day of the season against the Baltimore Orioles.
But the guy has a wealth of experience and has pitched in many big games. He saved three games in the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies. He has a career 1.00 ERA with 7 saves in the postseason.
The contract may be large but Papelbon has the stuff to be one of the best closers in the game.