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UPDATE: Phillies, Jonathan Papelbon agree to four-year, $50 million contract

Nov 11, 2011, 2:42 PM EDT

Jonathan Papelbon Getty Images

UPDATE III: Jon Heyman of reports that Papelbon is guaranteed $50 million over four years while the vesting option is believed to be easily attainable.

UPDATE II: If you were somehow on the fence about this deal being excessive, this should push you overboard and then some. Jayson Stark of reports that Papelbon will also receive a vesting option for a fifth year which would make the total package worth more than $60 million.

UPDATE: Oh boy. Salisbury reports that the deal is for four years and approaches $50 million.

Meanwhile, Jon Heyman of has confirmed the deal.

2:33 PM: Well, here’s an old fashioned swerve.

According to Jim Salisbury of, the Phillies and Jonathan Papelbon have reached agreement on a contract, pending a physical.

No word on the contract details yet, but the Phillies were reportedly close to signing Ryan Madson to a four-year, $44 million contract with a club option for a fifth year. You’d have to think it would be something similar, if not more.

Papelbon, who turns 31 later this month, has a 2.33 ERA over seven seasons in the big leagues. He struggled with his command last season, leading to a career-high eight blown saves, but bounced back in a big way in his contract year, posting a 2.94 ERA and 87/10 K/BB ratio over 64 1/3 innings.

Papelbon qualifies as a Type A free agent this winter, so barring changes to the CBA, the Phillies will surrender their first-round pick (No. 31 overall) in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft to Boston.

If Salisbury’s report is true, Papelbon’s deal would be the richest contract ever for a relief pitcher, surpassing the five-year, $47 million deal B.J. Ryan signed with the Blue Jays in November of 2005. Mariano Rivera would still have the highest average annual (AAV) for a relief pitcher, at $15 million.

  1. CJ - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:38 PM


    • bigharold - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:15 PM

      As the Nation exclaims, in unison, “Rut Roe”.

      And, they thought the bull pen was bad last year….

  2. drmonkeyarmy - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Heyman confirms….Salisbury reporting that the deal is 4 years approaching 50 million.

    • CJ - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:40 PM

      WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much for a closer, if true.

  3. miketreedy - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    As a Red Sox fan I am very disappointed if this is true. He did struggle some over last two years but there is a lot of pressure closing games in Boston. I think people try and compare him to Rivera in Boston and that’s not a fair comparison. There is only one Rivera. He did a great job for the Sox especially in 2007.

  4. mdpickles - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    I like Madson a bunch, and as good as his changeup is, he does not have “closer stuff.” Money well spent, imo.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:42 PM

      What do you mean by “closer stuff”….he throws around 95 with possibly the best change up in baseball and has added a good cutter.

      • lyon810 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:00 PM

        Shields still has a better change-up

    • marshmallowsnake - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:59 PM

      Oh, just wait until Papelbon decides to stick with his fastball all the time. You will wish Madson was still there.

  5. yankeesjetsknicksrangers - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Early last year Red Sox Nation were whining for Daniel Bard to be the closer anyway (don’t say you didn’t) So here you go.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:43 PM

      Maybe the Red Sox will sign Madson.

    • marshmallowsnake - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:00 PM

      I didn’t. I wanted Bobby Jenks. (sarcasm)

  6. icelovinbrotha215 - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    I don’t like it. Way too much for a closer. The Fightens’ better win another WS to justify this move! Does this mean no-go on J-Roll?

    • marshmallowsnake - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:00 PM

      Jelly Rolls?

  7. theonlynolan - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Twitter claims the deal is for 4 years and around 50 million. Thats an insane amount of money for about 250 innings.

  8. Kyle - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Googley Moogley!

  9. chip56 - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Huge over-pay for a closer not named Rivera – I feel bad for anyone who has to sign a relief pitcher this winter if that’s where the Phillies are setting the market.

    Now I will root for the Phils to sign another Type A free agent so that Boston doesn’t even get a draft pick for him.

    • CJ - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:57 PM

      At Rivera’s age, I wouldn’t even give HIM that contract. There’s not a closer in baseball with $50M over 4 years. Not. A. One.

      • CJ - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:58 PM



    • mabunar - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:12 PM

      Boston can’t lose a draft pick no matter how many Type A’s the Phils sign. The only thing that would be impacted is ‘which’ draft pick it is.

      For the Red Sox to not get Philly’s first round pick, Philly would need to sign another Type A of higher rank than Papelbon.

      Here they are:
      # Albert Pujols, Cardinals – 95.200
      # Prince Fielder, Brewers – 91.200
      # C.J. Wilson, Rangers – 90.988
      # David Ortiz, Red Sox – 86.000
      # Ryan Madson, Phillies – 82.948
      # Heath Bell, Padres – 81.437
      # Carlos Beltran, Giants – 80.879 (cannot be offered arbitration)
      # Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox – 80.292

      Beltan is out, because he cannot be offered arbitration.
      Madson wouldn’t count obviously.
      Don’t see them signing Bell, Pujols, Fielder or Papi either.

      That leaves just CJ Wilson. And I don’t think that’s very likely either unless we see some blockbuster trade where Philly trades off one of their stud SPs.

      • seattlej - Nov 11, 2011 at 4:03 PM

        Wow… relevant information AND analysis in the hardballtalk comments? Without calling someone an asshole or idiot? Never thought I’d see the day…

  10. Davidw7 - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:53 PM


    Didn’t see this happening so quickly…then again with that money on the table I don’t blame Papelbon for signing ASAP because no team would offer that insane deal to him. I’m not sure why the Phillies felt they needed to do this.

    On a personal view, I would’ve stuck with Madson.

  11. hank10 - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    This afternoon Amaro flat out denied having a deal in place with Madson. Then again he is a GM on a radio show so take it for what it’s worth. Still, this deal and the one floated for Madson are both nuts. Not my money, but to give a closer a 4 year deal at over $12M per??? I don’t know.

    Guess this precludes bringing back JRoll, unless he becomes more reasonable or the team has decided the luxury tax is unavoidable?

  12. Francisco (FC) - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    O. M. G. That’s WAY too much money. I’d rather 4 years of Madson at $44 than 4 years of Papelbon at $50. Please fail the physical, please fail the physical, please fail the physical…

  13. cur68 - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    I was hoping the BeaverMen would get Papelbon. He puts bums in seats. Lotta dough for a team with a lot of dough already tied up in pitching, but there is no guess work with that guy. He gets the job done as advertised and he’s a lot of fun to watch doing it.

    Hopefully this means Madson’s asking price is lower and the BeaverMen sign him…but there is not a shred of logic to that statement, now is there…*sigh*….

  14. marshmallowsnake - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    YES! As a Sox fan, I cannot be more excited! When he needed to get a save, he blew it. Take him…please!

    • bigharold - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:20 PM

      Great, .. you got what you wanted. But who is closing next year?

      • marshmallowsnake - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:39 PM

        Who cares.

      • seattlej - Nov 11, 2011 at 4:04 PM

        The Red Sox?

      • marshmallowsnake - Nov 11, 2011 at 4:45 PM

        You know, I doubt they care either.

  15. marshmallowsnake - Nov 11, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    On a side note…the Phillies are now the new Yankees as far as spending goes.

  16. Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    Now will the Phillies offer Madson arbitration? I think so…

    • marshmallowsnake - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:02 PM

      I hope he accepts it.

    • CJ - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:03 PM

      it’s even more of a risky proposition now though. they can’t afford it if he accepted. or do they hope his ego forces him not to accept and get a pick or two out of it?

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:11 PM

        CJ, Either they know he won’t accept, and they get two first round picks after he declines, Or they know he will accept and want to keep him too. Amaro is obviously a pitching hog so I wouldn’t be shocked by either scenario really.

        By signing Papelbon, knowing Madson won’t take arbitration, it gains them a pick in the first round. I wonder if this is all about gaining a 1st round pick?

      • mabunar - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:20 PM

        It also would depend on what team signs him. If a team with a pick in the first half of the first round signs him…then the Phils wouldn’t get a first rounder.

      • uyf1950 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:20 PM

        Actually the smart move for the Phillies would be to offer him arbitration. One way of another or another it really doesn’t cost the Phillies anything. If he accepts they sign him and trade him, if he doesn’t they get the draft pick. The Phillies don’t lose either way as I see it.

        The bigger problem as I see it is offering a closer a 4 year deal, very risky especially for that much money.

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:27 PM

        Amen to that uyf. And again, since it’s not my money….. WOOT!! Phills picked up the best FA closer on the market and either resign Madson or get an extra draft pick. It’s all good I guess..

        But yeah, “closer money” is getting crazy imo.

      • uyf1950 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:37 PM

        Jonny 5 – It’s nice that they got a player they apparently wanted. But they still need to generate “offense”. From what I can tell that was their biggest problem last season and this signing does absolutely nothing to solve that. The Phillies were probably one of the few team that really didn’t need to address their pitching situation. At least not to the tune of $50M/4 years for a closer. That’s just my opinion.

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:45 PM

        uyf, You’re preaching to the choir here on that. I hope the Luxury tax threshold is a good bit higher.. I believe as it stands, they have less than 20 million to use up for SS and LF players. Unless the jump is bigger than it previously was with the tax they will be limited.

      • uyf1950 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:52 PM

        Jonny 5 – The luxury tax threshold for 2011 was $178M. Do NOT count on it going up that much in the new CBA if it goes up at all. My guess is it tops out at $180M plus or minus a million dollars in total. Any more then that and the luxury tax concept becomes meaningless.

  17. paulsdamnblog - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    This move is kind of a wash isn’t it? You lose Madson, a guy who seemed to figure out the 9th inning last season. Get Papelbon, whose pretty much been the man for the Red Sox in the 9th, since his career started.

    • seattlej - Nov 11, 2011 at 4:11 PM

      Well, the Fillies have to pay an extra $8M or so. Besides that, yeah, I guess it’s kind of a wash.

  18. The Baseball Gods - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    It’s one thing to be upset about this if you think Madson is better than Papelbon, but if you are upset about the 6 Million more over 4 years I think that is pretty ridiculous. 6 Million more over 4 years is equivalent to 1.5 Million a year, which is basically chump change to the Phillies (or a backup catcher). If they really think Papelbon is better then I think it was a good deal. Papelbon has a career 2.29 ERA with 217 saves in the AL (which has a DH slot). Madson has a career 3.63 ERA with 50 saves in the NL. Also, it might surprise a lot of you, but Papelbon is actually a little younger than Madson.

    • The Baseball Gods - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:07 PM

      Also, I forgot to point out that Papelbon has 29 career blown saves and Madson has 26 career blown saves. So just for a refresher, that’s Papelbon with 217 saves and 29 blown saves over his career and Madson with 50 saves and 26 blown saves in his career.

      • paperlions - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:37 PM

        All blown saves are not created equal, and every set up man has a bad save to BS ratio because blown leads by a non-starter any time after the 5th inning is a blown save….so middle relievers and setup men (especially guys that are regularly brought in with men on base) will always have a far more blown saves than saves….because the never ever get a save opportunity. Madson has spent most of his career with few save opportunities, whereas Papelbon has spent nearly his entire career as the closer. So this is a bad comparison on two levels.

      • lanflfan - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:43 PM

        Comparing numbers on blown saves can be misleading, since I believe Madson was a setup man before this year, and thus had fewer save chances (but plenty of chances to pick up blown saves). Of course, sabre heads discount the save completely (not that I agree).

    • CJ - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:08 PM

      I’d have been upset with 11M per to Madson

      • The Baseball Gods - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:10 PM

        I was just saying if it was going to be one of the two I don’t see a great argument for not signing Papelbon over Madson.

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:14 PM

      Given the choice I still prefer cheaper, Given an open choice I’d chose neither. Basically offering a closer more than $10 MM is pissing money away. The Save stat is the most overrated stat there is. Madson has been shutdown most of his career, I believe he can give the Phillies the same value as Papelbon, save stat notwithstanding. I dislike both reported deals.

      • The Baseball Gods - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:20 PM

        Did you see their ERA’s dude? You can act like Save is an irrelevant stat, but is ERA an irrelevant stat?

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:36 PM

        Some people may say it’s better to look at xFIP actually….

      • Francisco (FC) - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:42 PM

        Have you seen their Shutdown numbers?

        190 vs 181 is fairly similar. Papelbon has a history of fewer meltdowns (40 vs 67) But there’s nothing that suggests Madson won’t keep his meltdown rate low.

      • Francisco (FC) - Nov 11, 2011 at 5:36 PM

        Here’s another article comparing the two:

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:27 PM

      Fine points, but Papelbon just signed for about 30% more than his actual worth, in my humble opinion.

  19. badmamainphilliesjamas - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    Way too much for a closer.
    Maybe he’s bringing a season’s worth of beer and fried chicken with him?

  20. joshftw - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    One more reason to hate the Phillies.

    • bleedgreen - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:20 PM

      Cuz they spend their money? Maybe you should be mad at the team you like and give your money to for NOT spending the money you give them.

    • spudchukar - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:21 PM

      Yeah, part of me always found it hard to dislike the Phils, with likable guys like Utley, Polanco, Victorino, Howard, Chooch, Lee and Halladay. But now it will be a lot easier.

  21. drmonkeyarmy - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    Now a 5th year vesting option? Damn Rube, you’ve really lost the plot.

    • The Baseball Gods - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:42 PM

      And since when has everyone been counting the Phillies money? They have shown over and over again that they can afford to pay whoever they really want to pay. They saw that Papelbon was the best closer out there and so they did what they felt they had to in order to bring him in. Everyone can get up in arms if they don’t spend the money on Hamels, but why does everyone care so much about how much money the Phillies are spending? Phillies fans should be happy that they continue to spend their money on trying to improve the club.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 11, 2011 at 5:09 PM

        Yeah, it’s not like they traded away Cliff Lee so they could afford Halladay, or anything like that.

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2011 at 10:28 PM

        The Baseball Gods have spoken.

        I’m with you. Until it back fires. Then it’ll be a huge mistake that should have never happened. I really like Madson, but Papelbon is better, and as a fan I can’t complain about the GM making the team better. Unless they can’t score runs and this stops them from improving offense. See how that works?

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:54 PM

      Of course because not having a great closer was the reason they were knocked out the last two postseasons… NOT!

  22. uyf1950 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    Very, very risky 4 years for a closer. Personally I think they committed more money and years to a position then they needed to. Especially this year with all the “quality” closers hitting the market. They may very well regret this in year 3 and 4. Just my opinion.

    Food for thought. Makes you wonder the real reason the Madson contract didn’t go through. Obviously it couldn’t have been the money or years if the speculation on Papelbon’s deal is accurate.

  23. The Common Man - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    I, for one, look forward to mocking this deal regularly for the next four years.

    • Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:40 PM

      ……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
      ……….”…\………. _.·´

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:41 PM

        Take that Common man!!!! ;>P

      • stlouis1baseball - Nov 11, 2011 at 4:03 PM

        Hahaha! Well played Jonny. Well played.

      • stlouis1baseball - Nov 11, 2011 at 4:05 PM

        One more thing Jonny….how long did it take you to do that? Impressive.

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2011 at 4:27 PM

        I cannot tell a lie. I googled “middle finger text” then copied and pasted it here.

    • stlouis1baseball - Nov 11, 2011 at 4:02 PM

      That makes two off us Common Man! “Great” sign Philly! Wonderful. Outstanding. Well done!

  24. lanflfan - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    This smells more like a Ned Colletti signing.

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 11, 2011 at 3:48 PM

      Ned Colletti is impersonating Ruben Amaro Jr! He has the Ninja tied up and gagged in his office! Quick, someone save Rube!

  25. frank35sox - Nov 11, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    Red Sox fans, rejoice. This is the best thing for you. If you don’t think so, how did Bobby Jenks taste this year? From a Sox fan to another type of Sox fan, a dominating closer during a World Series run or two warrants less revere than he actually gets.

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