For someone who usually lets his intimidating stare from the mound and a blazing fastball speak for him, Jonathan Papelbon used his words on Tuesday to let everyone know he wants a long-term future in Boston at the right price. Papelbon has already set standards in a Red Sox uniform, saving a franchise rookie record 35 games in 2006, the third-most by a rookie closer. He followed that up with 37 saves last season and has a 1.62 ERA in 135 career games. His 72 saves in his first two seasons are the most by a Boston pitcher.
Papelbon laid the groundwork for a new contract following his perfect fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at City of Palms Park.
“It’s a tough situation for me right now because, basically, I’m at a point to where I feel like the position I’m in, there’s a certain standard that needs to be put in place here,” Papelbon said of looking for a long-term contract. “I feel like, with me being at the top of my position, I feel like that standard needs to be set. I’m the one to set that standard, and I don’t think that the Red Sox are really necessarily seeing eye-to-eye with me on that subject right now, but hopefully we can get somewhere.”
Mariano Rivera, with a Yankees-record 443 saves in his career, signed a three-year, $45 million contract in the offseason.
The right-hander believes when his new contract is done, he should be in the same class as the best relievers in the game.
“We’re chugging away at this thing and we want to get it done, believe me,” Papelbon said. “We can move on, but at the same time, I feel a certain obligation, not only to myself and my family to make the money that I deserve, but for the game of baseball.
“Mariano Rivera has been doing it for the past 10 years, and with me coming up behind him, I feel a certain obligation to do the same.”
In his third big league season, Papelbon made $425,500 in 2007. The right-hander will sign for this season at a salary set by the team.
“Yeah, I’m at the mercy of the club right now to a certain extent, but it’s just a matter of ironing out the numbers,” Papelbon said. “We haven’t ironed them out yet, and hopefully we can get to a mutual agreement. I don’t want to renew. I don’t want to. But if I have to, I have to. It’s just the cold, hard facts of it. And if I have to do that to set the tone, that’s what I’d do. We’ll figure something out.