McAdam at the GM Meetings: Does it make sense to trade Papelbon?

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McAdam at the GM Meetings: Does it make sense to trade Papelbon?

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Increasingly, you hear Jonathan Papelbon as a name the Red Sox would be willing to deal as the GM Meetings swing into their first full day.

But how much sense does that make?

First, Papelbon is coming off, inarguably, his worst season since becoming the team's full-time closer in 2006, posting a career-high 3.90 ERA and blowing a career-high eight saves. His trade value, in that sense, has never been lower.

Second, Papelbon is arbitration eligible and stands to make somewhere between 11 million-12 million for 2011. That would make him the third-highest paid closer in the big leagues behind only Mariano Rivera -- a free agent who will undoubtedly come close to the 15 million he was paid in 2010 -- and Francisco Rodriguez, who will make 11.5 million with the New York Mets.

Finally, there's the matter of Papelbon intent on filing for free agency after 2011 in his quest to become the new salary standard-bearer for closers. (Whether he becomes that will be determined by how well he bounced back next season).

So, any team trading for Papelbon will be paying him an enormous amount after his worst season, knowing that there is little to deter him from going onto the market next November.

Does that sound like a logical plan?

Conjecture is that if the Sox moved Papelbon, they could replace him with free agent closer Rafael Soriano, who was brilliant for Tampa Bay last season. But Soriano will be looking for a multiyear deal -- think at least three years, at least 10-12 million per season -- and the Sox have had an aversion to committing themselves long-term to relievers, even ones as good as Soriano.

Factor in that Soriano is about as old as Papelbon and has been nowhere near as durable and the risks are greater.

About the only scenario where moving Papelbon makes any sense is if the Sox are planning to non-tender him because of the money he stands to make in his final year of arbitration eligibility. The Sox have until Dec. 2 to tender contracts to players not under multi-year deals.

Non-tendering Papelbon would make him a free agent a year early, with the Sox getting nothing in return -- not even a draft pick in compensation.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz hopes he's made a case to stay in rotation

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Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz hopes he's made a case to stay in rotation

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 win over Tampa Bay Rays.

 

QUOTES:

"I didn't know I could really do that.'' - Mookie Betts, who marveled at his throw from the right field corner which nailed Kevin Kiermaier -- attempting to stretch a double into a triple -- at third in the eighth inning.

"He's playing a huge role for us right now. He's stepped in, he's built his arm strength and given us almost 13 very strong innings the last two outings.'' - John Farrell on Clay Buchholz.

"I don't know that we ever lost faith in the talent of Clay. He was in a rut for quite some time. . . But the jolt that he's given us from the spot starts he's made, he's kept us rolling.'' - Farrell on Buchholz.

"You'd have to ask John about that. I have no idea. I've tried to make the most of (the opportunity) and if a decision has to be made, make it a hard one.'' - Buchholz, when asked if he's made a case to stay in the rotation.

 

NOTES:

* The Red Sox improved to a season-best 17 games over .500

* The win was just the fourth for the Red Sox this season when scoring two or one runs.

* The win was the first for Clay Buchholz as a starter since May 9.

* David Ortiz moved into sixth place on the Red Sox' all-time hit list, passing Bobby Doerr with 2.043 hits.

* Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games and has reached base in 16 straight.

* Andrew Benintendi recorded his eighth multi-hit game, the first Red Sox player to do so in his first 20 games since Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007

* Mookie Betts recorded his 10th outdield assist, placing him third among major league right fielders.

* Craig Kimbrel has a 1.08 ERA in save situations this year and 6.06 in non-save situations.

* Kimbrel has recorded a save in each of his last five appearances.

 

STARS:

1) Clay Buchholz

To say that this was Buchholz's best start of the season is to damn with faint praise, since there haven't been many good ones. But this was very good: 6 1/3 innings, one run on five hits with a season-high nine strikeouts.

2) Mookie Betts

Betts has only been a pro outfielder for a little more than two years, but that didn't look to be the case when he fired a strike from the right field corner to cut down a baserunner at third with one out in the eighth inning.

3) Craig Kimbrel

Kimbrel was dominant in the ninth, protecting a one-run lead with two strikeouts and a soft lineout to left.

 

First impressions: Buchholz's strong start helps lead Red Sox to 2-1 win

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First impressions: Buchholz's strong start helps lead Red Sox to 2-1 win

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:

 

1) If this was the last start for Clay Buchholz, it was a good one.

Buchholz was brilliant in 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run while striking out a season high nine hitters.

After contributing little in the first four months of the season, Buchholz has helped out in a big way in the last four weeks -- first out of the bullpen and more recently, in three spot starts.

He's made sone adjustments with his release point, giving him far better command within the strike zone, and unsurprisingly, far better results.

Now, the question is: how will be used going forward?

 

2) Monday night, Andrew Benintendi thwarted the Rays in the late inning. On Tuesday, it was Mookie Betts's turn.

Benintendi's catch to rob Steve Souza Jr. of a two-run homer in the eighth was the highlight seen 'round the world. But it's possible that a throw from Betts was, in its own way, just as important.

Like Benintendi's magic trick Monday, this one took place with one out in the eighth inning. Brad Ziegler retired the leadoff hitter before Kevin Kiermaier chopped a ball into the right field corner. Betts chased down the ball as Kiermaier rounded second and headed to third.

The throw from Betts, from the right field corner, was a strike as Travis Shaw slapped a tag on the runner.

Forget, for a minute, the wisdom of someone already in scoring position attempting to take an extra base while trailing by a run and instead focus on the magic turned in by the Red Sox outfield in successive nights.

 

3) Robbie Ross Jr. has become a significant part of the bullpen.

Ross took over for Buchholz in the seventh, with lefty Corey Dickerson and righthanded-hitting Bobby Wilson due.

Ross overpowered Dickerson and got him swinging at a third strike before retiring Wilson on a routine bouncer to third.

It marked the fourth straight scoreless appearance by Ross in relief and ninth straight on the road.

Ross probably doesn't have the pure stuff to become the main option in the eighth inning. But he has had enough success to be someone that John Farrell trusts in some high leverage situations and matchups.