Of the rest of the free agents at the position, none are expected to match Papelbon’s $12.5 million annual salary, the second-highest ever for a closer.
Heath Bell doesn’t boast Papelbon’s body of work. Ryan Madson became the Phillies closer in 2011 by default. Joe Nathan is 36 years old and two years removed from his last impactful season. But they are all viable options to take over Papelbon’s role, albeit for less money.
The Red Sox could go with internal replacements, with setup man Daniel Bard the most logical option. Afredo Aceves has shown the grit necessary to close out games, although his versatility was invaluable to Boston in 2011.