It’s all just talk, not news, but over at the Providence Journal Brian MacPherson speculates that the Red Sox and Jonathan Papelbon may very well be together beyond 2011.
His thinking: there are a lot of relief pitchers who will be available this winter, which could depress Papelbon’s asking price on the open market. At the same time, Papelbon has been really good this year, reminding the Sox of just what they’ve had and what they might miss. Oh, and the Bobby Jenks flop is evidence that you can’t just go out and snag any old closer (and means that Jenks can’t really be counted on to step in and fill Papelbon’s shoes next year).
My mind goes kind of fuzzy whenever I think about the closer market simply because they are so volatile and because the talk surrounding closers is full of so much hokum (e.g. “proven closers” and all that jive). But MacPherson has me wondering whether what we all thought coming into this season — that Papelbon is gone — is really the case.
The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.
Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.
While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.