The Red Sox control Papelbon's contractual rights for one more year, meaning the right-hander can become a free agent after the 2011 season.
The Sox also avoided arbitration with two other righty relievers on Tuesday, agreeing to terms with Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez, two of Papelbon's top setup men. By Tuesday evening, no agreement had been reached with outfielder Jeremy Hermida, the lone remaining Boston player eligible for arbitration. The sides exchanged arbitration figures in the event that a deal can't be reached before hearings take place in February. Hermida is asking for $3.85 million, while the Red Sox have countered with $2.95 million.
While the Red Sox locked up three other pieces of their homegrown core last winter -- Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester -- they've been unable to do so with Papelbon, who has been on record many times saying that he's more than fine going with a year-by-year approach.
Papelbon, 29, is Boston's all-time saves leader with 151. In his four seasons as the closer of the Red Sox, Papelbon has never posted an ERA higher than 2.34. Though his outings were more laborious in 2009, Papelbon still had sparkling numbers, notching a 1.85 ERA while converting 38 of 41 save opportunities.
Previously untouched in 17 postseason appearances, the 2009 season ended with a bitter taste for Papelbon, who couldn't hold a two-run lead with two outs and nobody on in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Angels. The Red Sox wound up getting swept.
Papelbon has pitched 268 games for the Red Sox, registering a 1.84 ERA and producing 346 strikeouts in 298 innings. He has held opponents to a .198 average in his career while striking out 10.45 batters per nine innings.
Boston avoided arbitration with another key reliever last week, signing lefty Hideki Okajima for one year at $2.75 million.
Ian Browne is a reporter for
MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.