UPDATE III: Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that Papelbon is guaranteed $50 million over four years while the vesting option is believed to be easily attainable.
UPDATE II: If you were somehow on the fence about this deal being excessive, this should push you overboard and then some. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that Papelbon will also receive a vesting option for a fifth year which would make the total package worth more than $60 million.
UPDATE: Oh boy. Salisbury reports that the deal is for four years and approaches $50 million.
Meanwhile, Jon Heyman of SI.com has confirmed the deal.
2:33 PM: Well, here’s an old fashioned swerve.
According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the Phillies and Jonathan Papelbon have reached agreement on a contract, pending a physical.
No word on the contract details yet, but the Phillies were reportedly close to signing Ryan Madson to a four-year, $44 million contract with a club option for a fifth year. You’d have to think it would be something similar, if not more.
Papelbon, who turns 31 later this month, has a 2.33 ERA over seven seasons in the big leagues. He struggled with his command last season, leading to a career-high eight blown saves, but bounced back in a big way in his contract year, posting a 2.94 ERA and 87/10 K/BB ratio over 64 1/3 innings.
Papelbon qualifies as a Type A free agent this winter, so barring changes to the CBA, the Phillies will surrender their first-round pick (No. 31 overall) in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft to Boston.
If Salisbury’s report is true, Papelbon’s deal would be the richest contract ever for a relief pitcher, surpassing the five-year, $47 million deal B.J. Ryan signed with the Blue Jays in November of 2005. Mariano Rivera would still have the highest average annual (AAV) for a relief pitcher, at $15 million.