Comcast Sports' Sean McAdam tweeted word that the Red Sox had again avoided arbitration by agreeing on one year deals with both Jonathan Papelbon and Jacoby Ellsbury. Papelbon is in his third year of salary arbitration and gets $12 million to continue as the Red Sox closer. He made $9.35 million in 2010. Ellsbury was in his first year of eligibility and got a 382.9% raise over his 2010 salary of $497,000. His $2.4 million contract includes playing time bonuses that could increase his payout to $2.5 million.
Papelbon has become a moderately polarizing figure among Red Sox fans. Some remember his performance on the 2007 Championship team and his dancing exploits and smile. While others worriedly stare at his declining peripheral numbers and await his departure following this season. But he remains a tremendously effective reliever. Since assuming the closer role in 2006, he has never finished with fewer than 35 saves, and only once was his strikeout rate below 10 per 9 innings, and that was a 9.9 mark in 2006. In 2010 he he notched 37 saves in 65 appearances.
After consecutive seasons leading the American League in stolen bases, Ellsbury was slowed down by injuries in 2010. He appeared in just 18 games and was the subject of criticism for not coming back quick enough. The criticism may have prompted Ellsbury's premature return in August before his ribs had completely healed. He was back on the DL for good ten days later. For the year, Ellsbury finished with a .192/.241/.244 batting line, well off his career line of .291/.344/.405. The signings maintain Theo Epstein's record of never going to an arbitration hearing with any of his players.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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