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Papelbon's Future with the Red Sox

After hearing that it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Jon Papelbon is in Boston after the 2010 season, I reached out to Logan Lietz of Over the Monster. Here is the interview:

BC: What year do you think Jon Papelbon will become a free agent?

LL: After contract discussions in January failed to net a long-term deal, yet again, it’s hard for me to imagine Papelbon being a member of the Red Sox past 2010. According to reports, he declined a two-year contract for around $15-16 million initially, before ultimately accepting the one-year deal for just over $6 million. Papelbon has been pretty vocal about his desire to test the free agent market and is pretty adamant about being paid like a top-notch closer should, something I’m not sure the Red Sox are prepared to accommodate. It’s an interesting situation, though. After just a few seasons with the club Papelbon has become the all-time saves leader, one of the faces of the franchise, and is a real representation of Boston’s developmental success in recent years. On the other hand, Epstein hasn’t hesitated to let players of his caliber go in the past if the asking price is too high -- Perdo Martinez being a good example of that.  

BC: Do you think it is already decided that Dan Bard will be the closer of the future, or do you think the next year or two will decide that?

LL: I think that Daniel Bard is one of the main reasons why the Red Sox were fine signing Papelbon to just a one-year deal at this point. Bard will be one of the individuals to watch when monitoring this entire situation. If he does well in his current role as one of the set-up guys, it’ll obviously be easier to let Papelbon go following 2010. On the other hand, if he struggles we may see the Red Sox make a concerted effort to retain Papelbon long-term before he becomes eligible to test the market. At this point, I don’t think Boston is necessarily banking on Bard being the closer of the future as much as they are simply continuing to gauge his readiness, so to speak.

BC: Is it possible for the Red Sox to keep both Papelbon and Bard on the team for the next 5-10 years?

LL: While it is possible that both Bard and Papelbon become part of the Red Sox’s long-term plans, it’s also highly unlikely. As I said, Papelbon is doing his best to campaign his way into a large long-term contract, and with Bard waiting in the wings the chances of Boston appeasing his request is slim to none.

BC: Could the Red Sox try to trade Papelbon rather than non tender him or let him go to free agency?

LL: Trading Papelbon is not a farfetched idea by any means. Management has stated their willingness to go out and get a bat mid-2010 if need be, and if Bard does well, Papelbon could be movable. That scenario becomes more likely in the event that Josh Beckett does well enough to garner a long-term contract extension as he has been the other big name thrown around in potential mid-season trades. Adrian Gonzalez’s representation has recently declared him too expensive for San Diego’s long-term plans, so we’ll see how attractive Papelbon is to the Padres if the situation comes to fruition.

BC: Any other inside info or commentary you have about the prospects of Papelbon not being in a Red Sox uniform in the future?

LL: As far as inside information regarding Papelbon’s future with the Red Sox -- like I said, there have been numerous reports here and there suggesting that Papelbon has heavy interest in testing the free agent market. I think the fact that he declined a two-year deal that would have paid him around $8 million a year in favor of a one-year $6.25 million contract is telling. Not to mention the fact that Papelbon has even stated in the past that he isn’t adverse to playing in a Yankees uniform if the money is right.

BC: What uniform will Papelbon be in in the following: 2011, 2012, 2013?

LL: Personally, I think that Papelbon finishes 2010 in a Red Sox’s uniform before subsequently signing elsewhere. Where he signs is anyone’s guess, but wherever it is, it will likely be a long-term deal worth a lot of money -- which is certainly warranted given his success and consistency the past few years in Boston.

Thanks again to Logan for the help. Continue reading after the jump for my analysis/opinion

 Personally, I agree with Logan on the last question. I do think that Papelbon will finish 2010 as a member of the Red Sox unless something crazy happens. As much as I think Papelbon is a great closer, I would HATE to see him in a Yankees uniform. He represents everything that I hate in a player and also has called out Mariano Rivera in the past. I would hope that Paplebon signs with an NL Central or West team so I don't have to see much of him in the future.

Also, this year will be a very interesting year for Boston. If Bard struggles, do the Red Sox pay Papelbon? If Bard pitches well enough do the Red Sox just let Papelbon go? Tough decisions!

P.S. I'd like some feedback on whether or not I should keep doing Q&A's.