Jonathan Papelbon soon might have a new home.
The free-agent reliever is drawing “strong interest” from across Major League Baseball and will choose a new team within the next 24 hours, a source with knowledge of Papelbon’s thinking told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford on Tuesday.
Papelbon recently was released by the Washington Nationals, who acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates before the MLB non-waiver trade deadline. The 35-year-old is in the midst of a disappointing season, posting a 4.37 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP in 35 innings over 37 appearances.
There’s plenty to suggest Papelbon isn’t the pitcher he once was — his fastball velocity is down and his 2.21 strikeout-to-walk ratio is his worst since 2005, when he appeared in just 17 games — and there’s some risk to adding a player with such a polarizing personality. But Papelbon is a six-time All-Star who’s been one of the league’s best closers over the last decade-plus. It’s unsurprising that teams reportedly are doing their homework.
Papelbon, who also spent seven seasons with the Boston Red Sox (2005-11) and parts of four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (2012-15), was solid as recently as last year, so there’s reason to believe he could change things around down the stretch under the right circumstances.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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