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Jonathan Papelbon likely to ask for $11.5 million in arbitration

Nov 19, 2010, 10:47 AM EDT

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Jonathan Papelbon “is poised to ask for $11.5 million” in his final year of arbitration, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

That would be a raise of slightly over $2 million from his 2010 salary, which Papelbon earned while having the worst season of his career. He blew nine of 46 save opportunities while posting career-worst marks in ERA (3.90), losses (7), walks (28), and homers (7).

Cafardo notes that the Red Sox almost always avoid actually going through the arbitration process with players, instead agreeing to a contract before the hearing can take place, but speculates that “they might fight this one out.”

However, while it makes sense that someone shouldn’t get a $2.15 million raise to $11.5 million following a career-worst season the arbitration process works in such a way that a raise was all but guaranteed unless Papelbon got hurt or was downright terrible. In other words, “fight this one out” could just as easily backfire for the Red Sox and result in their having to pay him $11.5 million instead of a slightly lesser figure reached via pre-hearing compromise.

Of course, there’s nothing actually forcing the Red Sox to keep Papelbon. They could simply non-tender him if they don’t like the potential $11.5 million price tag or trade him to a team more willing to pay that much for a 30-year-old closer showing various signs of decline.

  1. BC - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    Think the Phillies could use him?

    • Jonny 5 - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:17 AM

      Nope. Contreras, Madson, Lidge. All capable of closing. And Conteras and Madson are total deals, as well as beautiful set up guys capable of going multiple innngs. The Phillies wouldn’t spend that kind of loot imo on another pen arm. Lidge is bringing in 12 million per, and Madson is up over 5 million I think… I think they’re going to be all over the clearance rack for bullpen guys, and save their money for whatever happens in the OF this winter.

  2. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    team more willing to pay that much for a 30-year-old closer showing various signs of decline

    Wtf, he’s 30?
    [runs and checks bref.com]
    Wow he is 30 (well technically on tues), and still hasn’t hit FA yet.

  3. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    Let Papeldouche go if you know what’s good for ya, Red Sox nation.

  4. phukyouk - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    MOST.OVERRATED.PLAYER.EVER!!!!!!!!!!

    • Space Escalator - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:25 AM

      Or at least the slowest. Yikes, the defense must hate playing behind him. Maybe that can be an arbitration angle: most naps between pitches.

    • Ace - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:47 AM

      Hey, he really was an elite closer for a few years there. Just . . .not so much these days. I’d be thrilled if the Sox could trade him for something useful, but I hear the market for Paps has been extremely weak this offseason (little surprise there). So yeah, I think maybe they ought to let him walk. 11.5 mil could bring in plenty of bullpen help from the FA market, and they already have a younger, better, cheaper closer on the team in Daniel Bard.

  5. uyf1950 - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    I think the Red Sox should sign him to at least a 3 year $40M extension. After all how many other closers can you name that finished last season with a 5-7 win/loss record, an ERA of 3.90 and 8 blown saves. Only in american professional sports can a person blow away his previous years numbers (and not in a good way) and ask for and expect almost a 25% raise.
    Before anyone brings up the subject of Jeter. In my opinion my comment applies to him as well. Again, in my opinion athlete’s negotiating a new contract should expect to be paid and judged on their most recent performance and future expectations. Not on what they may have accomplished 2, 3 or more years ago.

    • Detroit Michael - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:48 AM

      You do know that Papelbon’s 2010 salary was not determined by supply & demand, right?, but instead through a collectively bargained system that allows Papelbon’s employer to pay him below market wages (only partially corrected by the arbitration system) for the first several years of his professional career. That’s how he can ask for and expect an almost 25% raise, because last year’s compensation didn’t reflect his fair market value.

      • uyf1950 - Nov 19, 2010 at 12:15 PM

        To Detroit – I do know how Papelbon’s 2010 salary was determined. He accepted the $9.35M salary in 2010 in arbitration he could have asked for $14M last year if he wanted to and if the arbitrator agreed with him he would have received it. I do not subscribe to the theory that any athlete is paid below fair market value even during his 1st 3 years when he is not eligible for arbitration. The club assumes all the risk of how a player will perform. Once arbitration kicks in if the player is confident in his case he case submit a number in line with his piers. In any case as I posted before he was paid for his past performance whether that pay was representative of his performance is irrelevant at this point. He should be paid on his value to the club now and what it he is expectation is during the length of any new contract.

  6. phukyouk - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    @ uyf – I bleed blue and would name my first son Derek Jeter (if my wife wouldn’t divorce me) but i am going to disagree with you. Jeter as a Ball player does not deserve more than a three yr 40 Mil contract . Jeter as the face of the most storied franchise in sports history. as the face of an entire sport deserves the sky in regards to $$$ not years. Jeter is more than a ball player he a status symbol. Pap-smear is one of the most hated Figures in baseball. noone on the sox can stand the guy and his name would be forgotten if not for the fact that he was part of the 2007 team.

    • uyf1950 - Nov 19, 2010 at 12:25 PM

      To phukyouk – I’m not sure I understand your post. I never said Jeter deserved any specific compensation in my post above. I merely said any criteria that I was applying to Papelbon was appropriate to Jeter. Specifically he should be paid on what he is worth now and in the immediate future to the Yankees. As Jeter was paid for his past performance and now should be paid for what is to come. I do not believe in a sense of entitlement for athletes. Is Jeter deserving of a new contract, absolutely. But that amount and length should be determined by present conditions not past performance. No question Jeter has been the face of the Yankees, but the Yankees are bigger then any one player including Jeter. In time a new face of the Yankees will emerge as he always has. There have been many faces of the Yankees over the years and there will be many in the future. As a Yankee fan since the mid 50′s that is one thing you can take to the bank.

    • Ralphie - Nov 19, 2010 at 12:52 PM

      Hated by who? You, and your Yankee Trolls? Because he’s been bold enough to tell you and the other NYY dopes to GFY? And WTF do you know about what the “sox” players think?

      By the way, anyone who names their kid after a “sports star” – excuse me, “a status symbol” is a dbag. If you really need to do that to boost your ego you should take the tough guy route and name him “Walker Texas Ranger”. He’s more of a status symbol that Jeter.

      • uyf1950 - Nov 19, 2010 at 1:09 PM

        To Ralphie – I’m sure phukyouk can respond to your reply if he chooses. But I will respond for myself since you included Yankee fans in your reply. I personally do NOT hate Papelbon. In fact just the opposite. I think he is perhaps the best thing to happen in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry since the Sox gave Beckett his 4 year extension at the very beginning of last season. Just so that you understand why I like Papelbon in a Red Sox uniform you need look no further then his numbers this year. Considering the 2 teams play each other 18 times, for a Yankee fan that’s like getting a Christmas present 18 times. That’s why Yankee fans love Beckett also, it’s like Christmas every time he pitches.

  7. frankvzappa - Nov 19, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    theo is an idiot and can be expected to make at least a couple stupid moves a year, and this looks to be another one…for the love of god, get rid of this has been

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 19, 2010 at 5:57 PM

      Remind me again of all of Theo’s embarrassing moves?

  8. dan1111 - Nov 19, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    Papelbon may or may not be worth $11,000,000 to the Sox for his play alone. However, his value also includes the draft picks they will get when he leaves as a Type A free agent (or, alternatively, the return they get in a trade). The Sox will not just give that up by non-tendering him.

    Plus, people are likely underrating Papelbon at this point due to one subpar season. From 2006-2009 he was arguably the best reliever in baseball. And even last year his peripheral numbers were very good.

    • Glenn - Nov 19, 2010 at 8:20 PM

      Unless you are a Yankee fan, as a fan you believe that your closer is overrated. It doesn’t matter what city you are in.

    • uyf1950 - Nov 19, 2010 at 8:51 PM

      To Dan1111 – I’m not sure what you mean by peripheral numbers. For a closer I would think the critical numbers are blown saves, ERA, WHIP, BAA. For a closer Papelbon’s numbers in all 4 for 2010 were terrible. 8 blown saves ties him for the most in the ML’s with any closer with 30 or more save. His 3.90 ERA is the highest of any closer in the ML’s with 30 or more saves, his WHIP is 3rd highest of any closer in the ML’s with 30 or more saves and finally his BAA is the 5th worst and any closer in the ML’s with 30 or more saves. Not the type of performance that warrants a 25% pay raise. I understand your comment about the draft choices, but if the Red Sox have an alternative to Papelbon (and most Red Sox fans I’ve spoken to think Bard should be their closer), I’m just not sure the prospect of getting draft choices for him should be the determining factor in letting him go to arbitration.

  9. airborne22 - Dec 10, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    I agree that Pap has been “off his game”, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have value to the Red Sox. Many closers have been moved into other slots in the bullpen. He would make an excellent SU pitcher for Bard, and could also slip in and out of the closer role again as needed. The issue is that when EVERYONE knows you are going to through fastballs, it is easy to sit and wait for the one you like. If he could develop another pitch or two, he could become and elite closer once again.

    To those Yankee fans out there who think Pap is a waste of money, look at your own closer. While Mo is outstanding, what team does he have the most problems with? That’s right, the Red Sox. He has blown more saves vs. the Sox, than any other team. Does that make him worthless, no, not at all.

    Sometimes this rivalry is just about arguing and jabbing at one another and has little to do with playing the game. I look forward to the 2011 season and can almost promise that the Sox and the Yanks will be playing in the ALCS. Always a good match-up.

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