Controversial closing pitcher Jonathan Papelbon is unlikely to return to Boston this season, according to Red Sox’s president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.
Papelbon, who got released by the Washington Nationals last August 13 after he requested to be cut from the squad, was expected to make a return to Boston and help the organization where he spent his first seven big league seasons with.
But Dombrowski said: “We have not had any conversations, so we assume he is not going to play.”
The 35-year-old reliever has seen his performance dwindle, particularly in his time with the Nationals. He has converted 19 out of 22 save opportunities this season but has a 4.37 ERA in 35 innings pitched in 37 games.
He also has had off-field issues with the team, including a shouting match with Washington star Bryce Harper that led to a physical confrontation.
As per MLB rules, teams have until August 31 to sign players that they can play into the postseason and with Papelbon out of Boston’s reach, the deal is likely not to push through.
The Red Sox, who are in a tight battle with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles for the American League East title, is in need of relief pitchers and cannot wait for Papelbon.
“Now it would take time for him to get in shape unless he has been throwing somewhere on a regular basis,” said Dombrowski.
Papelbon was drafted by Boston in 2003 and gave him his debut two years after. He won the closer role in his sophomore year and went on to record the franchise’s record of 219 saves before leaving the club for the 2012 season.
He then went to Philadelphia Phillies and signed a four-year/$60 million contract, which he lived up to after setting a franchise record of 123 saves in just 234 games.
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