The Boston Red Sox haven’t just had internal discussions about possibly signing free-agent reliever Jonathan Papelbon. John Farrell has spoken to the man himself.
The Red Sox manager revealed such Tuesday before Boston’s 5-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. He also shed light on the Red Sox’s interest in a possible reunion with the 35-year-old right-hander, who was released by the Washington Nationals over the weekend.
?Pap is a unique guy in many ways,? Farrell told reporters. ?But a guy that thrives in the moment, thrives to be in critical spots in the ballgame. While that closing role may be a thing behind him, still, the intangibles of the competitor haven?t changed.?
Papelbon struggled with the Nationals this season, causing Washington to acquire All-Star closer Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates before the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline. That spelled the end of Papelbon’s time as Washington’s ninth-inning man and ultimately ended his tenure in the nation’s capital.
It’s reasonable to wonder whether Papelbon has much left in the tank. His velocity is down, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.21) and WHIP (1.46) are the worst they’ve been since he broke into the majors in 2005. His current 4.37 ERA would be a career-worst by a wide margin.
But we’re still talking about a six-time All-Star who was solid as recently as last year. Even if his best days are behind him, Papelbon still might be able to contribute to a contender, like the Red Sox, in some capacity. Plus, he’s very familiar with Boston, having spent his first seven seasons with the organization from 2005 through 2011.
?There?s no question he?s a different pitcher now than nine years ago. There?s been a lot of saves recorded in between, a lot of pitches thrown,” Farrell told reporters. “I think the one thing that you look over the course of time and you follow scouting reports that have been submitted on him, he?s evolved as more of a ‘pitcher’ versus relying so much on velocity and a fastball that he would attack with. With the exception of a stretch in July, where maybe the performance was sub or less than what Pap has been maybe accustomed to, he?s been an effective pitcher.
“Coming back into Boston, if that were to happen, he?s very well aware of the environment, the expectation, so we?ll see where that goes.?
We could know Papelbon’s fate soon, as WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reported Tuesday, citing a source, that the veteran pitcher was expected to choose a new team within the next 24 hours.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images