The Philadelphia Phillies have reached agreement with free-agent closer Jonathan Papelbon on a four-year deal with a vesting option for 2016, a major-league source told FOXSports.com.
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The deal is worth $50 million for four years but could go beyond $60 million with the vesting option.
Papelbon, who turns 31 later this month, has pitched for the Boston Red Sox since signing with the organization as a fourth-round pick in 2003. He’s coming off a season in which he improved his year-to-year walk and strikeout rates, while saving 31 games with a 2.94 ERA.
The development comes days after reports said the Phillies had reached a four-year, $44 million contract with a different closer, Ryan Madson. Multiple sources have since said the Phillies and Madson never reached an agreement.
Papelbon is considered this winter’s top free-agent closer, after several strong years with the Red Sox. It’s possible that he and the Phillies will wait until Major League Baseball and the players’ union reach accord on a new collective bargaining agreement to make their formal announcement. The new CBA is unlikely to be in place before the weekend, a source told FOXSports.com on Friday.
Madson had 32 saves with a 2.37 ERA this year. He has spent his entire professional career with the Phillies, pitching in Philadelphia from 2003 through this year. If this is indeed the end of their relationship, one of the Phillies’ NL East rivals — the Nationals — could jump into the bidding for Madson.
The Nats, with a push from right fielder and former Madson teammate Jayson Werth, have been on the periphery of the Madson sweepstakes. Influential agent Scott Boras represents Werth and Madson, as well as numerous other Nationals players.