According to a major league source, the Red Sox have yet to make a contract offer to closer Jonathan Papelbon, who will be eligible to become a free agent once the Sox' exclusive negotiating period ends at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. (The negotiating window lasts for five days following the completion of the World Series.)
When asked about the prospects of reaching a deal with either Papelbon or potential free agent David Ortiz within the Sox' exclusive negotiating period, new Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said, "Within the window? Tough to handicap. My impression is that Pap will probably get into free agency. I’m not ruling anything out, but that’s my impression."
Papelbon is expected to be one of four top-tier closers on the free agent market, joining Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell and Ryan Madson. The Red Sox closer is coming off one of his best seasons, going 4-1 with a 2.94 ERA and 31 saves (in 34 chances), with 87 strikeouts and 10 walks.
The 30-year-old reliever made $12 million in 2011, having agreed to a one-year deal in his final year of being arbitration eligible.
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