MILWAUKEE -- Having lost Jonathan Papelbon to the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this week, the Red Sox find themselves suddenly in need of a closer for 2012.
There are internal candidates, including Daniel Bard. But moving Bard from his role as a set-up man in high-leverage innings solves one need but creates another.
It's more likely the Sox will try to find a veteran free agent closer whom they can sign without committing the kind of money that Papelbon got (four years, 50 million) from the Phillies.
That would seem to rule out Ryan Madson, who was in the midst of negotiating a four-year, 44 million deal with the Phils before the team abruptly switched direction and signed Papelbon.
If the Sox wanted to commit that kind of money (and length) to a closer, presumably, they would have done do with Papelbon. Instead, by Ben Cherington's own admission, they never made an offer to Papelbon.
Cherington said the Sox have had trade discussions with some teams and expressed interest to some agents in their search for a closer.
On the free-agent front, the Sox can choose from among Joe Nathan, Jonathan Broxton, Brad Lidge, Matt Capps and Francisco Cordero. Each, because of either age or injury, would likely be available for a short-term commitment.
"We'd prefer to avoid multiyear solutions anytime," said Cherington. "You can't always do that. And certainly with the bullpen market in general, given the volatility of that position, as a standard, we'd prefer a short-term solution. But I wouldn't rule out a longer-term solution if it was the right fit."
The Phillies, obviously, believed that Papelbon was the right fit, enough so that they gave him the most money ever given to a reliever, despite his age (31) and the workload he's had.
"We thought he was the best guy on the market," said Phils' GM Ruben Amaro Jr. "He's shown that he's been durable. He's shown that he's able to do this for an extended period of time. Anytime you go into a risk, the longer the deal, the bigger the risk. It's a risk anytime you do a multiyear deal.
"We just felt like he has the right mentality, the right work ethic, the right fit for us to extent."
Amaro said the Phils looked closely at his usage and had his medical staff do an "extensive study" on him before making the deal.
"For a guy who's pitched as much as he has and had the kind of success he's had and the mileage," said Amaro, "we thought it was still worth the risk."