The New York Yankees have been looking all over the closers market to try and replace the retiring Mariano Rivera; something that may be impossible to do considering he was perhaps the greatest relief pitcher to ever play in the sport.
They looked into Joe Nathan, but he signed with the Tigers. They considered Brian Wilson, but he didn't want to shave his beard and decided to stay with the Dodgers. Grant Balfour has an offer from the Orioles and Joaquin Benoit has two offers on the table for him; which means the top closers on the market are slowly dwindling and the Yankees don't fully trust David Robertson to be the heir to Rivera, so the search continues.
Yes, he used to be one of the most hated players when he was on the Boston Red Sox up until two years ago, but that's just the thing though; he knows how to pitch in the American League East, and pitch well too. Papelbon was the closer for Boston when they won the World Series back in 2007; he had three saves in the four game series against the Colorado Rockies.
The 33-year-old has been very good for the Phillies since signing the four-year, $50 million deal that has a vesting option for a fifth year that makes it as much as $60 million; but the Phillies are looking to dump his contract and might have to pay part of it if they really want to trade their All Star closer.
$13 million might seem like a lot of money for the Yankees to take on for Papelbon, but if the Phillies were to kick in part of the remaining two seasons and make it $8 million instead of $13 million, then Papelbon becomes a bargain considering the talent level he possesses. In 2013, he pitched to a 5-1 record with a 2.92 ERA with 29 saves and 57 strikeouts in 61.2 innings for the disappointing Phillies.
When Papelbon came to the Phillies, they were still a playoff contender and even a World Series contender in the National League, but since the end of 2011, they have been anything but that and have been one of the most disappointing teams over the last two years and Papelbon has vented his frustrations on the Phillies losing ways in his two years, so if Philadelphia were to give him the chance to go to New York, he might go for it.
Last season, Papelbon told the media in early May that he was not only open to being traded back to the Red Sox, but he was also open to pitching for the Yankees as well, and while most fans will remember the hatred that had for Papelbon when he was with Boston, most would probably welcome the idea of landing the closer if the Yankees had the chance to acquire him for partial cost.
In his seven years with the Red Sox, Papelbon had a 2.33 ERA and 219 saves and is 2-1 with a 1.00 ERA with seven saves in 18 appearances and replacing Rivera with someone like Papelbon could make for an easier transition in the first season without the most dominant closer in baseball history as opposed to trying to do so with Robertson; who might not even be ready to assume the role.
Papelbon's mentality would not only work in New York, but he would thrive playing in the bright lights and big stage of the Bronx, just like he did the same in Boston. His personality doesn't allow him to get scared of pitching in the big moments.
With the Phillies reportedly "shopping the crap" out of Papelbon, the Yankees should at least consider picking up the phone and seeing what it would take to land Papelbon and see if they can make him their next closer in 2014.
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