Did Mo really contact the Red Sox?

What happens if the Yanks miss out on Lee?
The RAB Radio Show: December 13, 2010
(Kathy Willens/AP)

While the re-signing of Mariano Rivera was relatively uneventful, there was an interesting twist. When news of the signing broke we learned that Rivera had other offers, and we later learned that one came from the Red Sox. The idea of a three-year, $51 million offer was shot down, but later word was that the Red Sox had offered two years and $30 million. Futhermore, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reported that the Red Sox were prepared to non-tender Jonathan Papelbon in the event that they landed Rivera. That left the Sox a little mess to clean.

A recent report from WEEI’s Rob Bradford attempts to walk back most of the story. It starts with the revelation that Mariano’s agent, Fernando Cuza, initiated contact with the Red Sox. When we first learned of the Red Sox offer it was assumed that they were the ones who contacted Rivera. Bradford’s scenario does make a bit of sense, though. What better way to attract the Yankees’ interest than by contacting the Red Sox?

The report also attempts to walk back the other part of the situation, i.e. Papelbon’s imminent non-tender. Bradford cites “separate sources,” and goes on to list the reasons why the Red Sox would never let Papelbon walk for nothing. If they offer him arbitration after the 2011 season, when he becomes a free agent, they can collect two compensatory draft picks if he signs elsewhere. Of course, that overlooks the possibility that Papelbon really is declining and that not only will he not be worth his salary in 2011, but that he won’t be worth the risk of an arbitration offer, thereby netting the Sox nothing if he leaves.

Still, it would represent a poor distribution of resources for the Red Sox to carry both Rivera at $15 million and Papelbon at $12 million. That’s more than the Rays will pay their entire pitching staff in 2011. The Red Sox can afford it, I suppose, but I doubt they’d do it. Plus, since the market for closers isn’t very strong, they’d have a hard time finding a taker for Papelbon at that salary. In the unthinkable event that Mo signed with Boston, I have to think that Boston would have cut ties with Papelbon. They can say, then, that they never intended to non-tender Papelbon, because they never really stood a chance to sign Mo.

There figured to be little drama in the Mariano negotiations, and as it concerned the Yankees there was not. Wanting to minimize risk, they wanted to sign him for only one year. He, wanting another two years before retirement, sought two years. His being Mariano Rivera, I’m sure the Yankees were prepared to go two years all along. It just took the Red Sox offer to prod them along. Might Rivera have contacted the Red Sox to get the process moving? Sure. Might the Red Sox have been willing to carry both Papelbon and Rivera? Maybe. But neither seems all that realistic. After the mess that Edes’s report created, I’m not surprised to see a contradictory one a few weeks later.

What happens if the Yanks miss out on Lee?
The RAB Radio Show: December 13, 2010
  • radnom

    On one hand it makes sense for Rivera’s people to do that, gain some leverage.

    On the other hand it doesn’t look like they used it at all. Was Rivera’s contract really any larger than it would have been without the Red Sox involvement? Hard to say, but I can’t imagine it would have gone much lower TBH.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

    Also, next offseason is closerpalooza.

    Heath Bell, Broxton, Papelbon, Capps, Franklin, Fuentes, Mike Gonzalez, Rodney, and Thornton all hit free agency.

    If their options get declined, you can also add Cordero, Lidge, Nathan, and K-rod (who has an option for 17.5M that vests with 55 games finished in 2011).

    Even if Papelbon has a good season, he might accept arbitration.

    • Hughesus Christo

      Only 3 of those guys, tops, isn’t complete garbage

      • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

        Valverde too, by the way (9M option). He doesn’t suck either.

        That doesn’t really matter though–there aren’t many teams that can afford top-flight closers and being able to pick between three guys would take a lot of leverage away from all of them. Accepting arbitration would guarantee Papelbon at least 12M and a chance to test a potentially scarcer market.

      • Sayid J.

        Eh. I disagree. Bell, Broxton, Papelbon, Capps, Franklin, Gonzalez and Thornton are all perfectly capable of closing.

  • AndrewYF

    I don’t think it’s so ridiculous to assume that Boston would keep both Rivera and Papelbon. They clearly value draft picks, and it’s not like having both of them hurts the team. In fact it considerably strengthens the weakest part of their team.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ngoral Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

      They would have used Rivera as their set-up man, though, which I find extremely insulting to Rivera.

      Boy Genius trying to look smart again… no surprise.

      • Not Tank the Frank

        Blowin’ everyone’s mind, Theo would have Papelbon and Rivera setting up for closer-of-the-future Daniel Bard… the reliever they laugh at the idea of trading for Justin Upton.

        • Thomas

          Each one would pitch one out of the ninth.

  • RL

    Nothing to see here. Move on.

  • Thomas

    My dad heard on the radio that Cuza was talking with the Red Sox about another client and then brought up Rivera just for due diligence. So if that guy was right, neither the Red Sox nor Rivera really went out of the way to initiate contact.

    • Slugger27

      even if they did, i dont see the big deal

  • http://www.123blawg.blogspot.com LawStudent

    Hate the Red Sox, but gotta admire how they always seem to end up with lots of Type A’s/B’s that decline arbitration. If they ever start to regulate the international free agent market, the Yanks farm system would probably take quite a hit.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ngoral Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

      Their involvement in the IFA market has been pretty poor, which is good for the Yankees. As for getting all those draft picks? It is pretty easy to get them when near the end of the season, a Type B player (Felipe Lopez) is put on waivers, and claimed by the another team (Padres), but then rejects the claim to become a FA, and the Red Sox can easily snatch him up. That’s almost as easy as simply buying Miguel Olivo from another team, just for the draft pick attached.

      • http://www.123blawg.blogspot.com LawStudent

        If it doesn’t cost that much to do, I’d like to see us do a little more of that. Woo prospects!

        A shame Vazquez didn’t work out, thought we’d get Type A compensation for him for sure.

  • Teh Comp Pick

    I don’t like Gordon Edes, he appears more of a clowny Sawx fan and sometimes sensationalist, than a journalist high in integrity. Just my opinion.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ngoral Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

      Yep, he was tolerable when he was with Yahoo, but once he did the switch, his homerism really showed. He lost all his credibility from me.

      • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

        Did the THEO’S MASTERSTROKE article give it away?

  • Bulldozer

    It’s a baseball negotiation. I have no problem if Mo contacted 29 teams. He clearly wanted more than one year, and the Yanks wanted one year. By this, he would give himself leverage to get the two years from the team he wanted.

    Why is this a big deal? Remember when Mo wanted 4 years, signed for 3 years, and then told everyone that he would have signed for 2 years? The guy can work the system.

  • cano24

    mariano is a free agent. notice the word FREE. he had every right to talk with every team to gain leverage and to just look around. had he signed with a team like boston i will admit i would be upset, but i think we should repect his rights as a free agent

    • Slugger27

      i think thats the consensus, yes

  • Bulldozer

    I’ll tell you one thing, Jeter needs to hire Mo’s PR guys. Mo was turning down billion dollar deals to sign with the Yanks (even though it turned out not to be true), and Jeter was the Grinch trying to steal X-mas. I’d say both went through a baseball negotiation and only one came out smelling like roses.

    • Slugger27

      to be fair, cashman went public about jeter, and not mariano. jeter being seen as the grinch really only happened after cashman made public comments

      • Bulldozer

        Yeah, I guess your right. I guess that’s why Jeter was “sore” about the whole thing. Still I felt like Jeter’s camp did nothing but take the abuse during the whole negatiation.

  • Cecala

    I call BS on this report, it seems more like a coverup to keep Paps happy. I don’t blame them for wanting to non-tender him, but its ridiculous how there has to be a cover up. If it was true, why would it take this long to come out…

    • Skip

      I agree. WEEI is a shill and a propaganda machine in the truest sense for the Red Sox. Heck, they broadcast out of Fenway. I would not be surprised if the Sox leaked this report to smooth over the situation with Papelbon. Living in Boston, I know how inconsistent Papelbon can be when he’s not focused or feels as if he’s been slighted, which is exactly what happened in this case. Besides, some aspects don’t make sense. Why would you keep Papelbon when you have Bard as the 8th inning guy/closer in waiting anyway? Teams are always desparate for closers, next year’s FA class be damned.

  • Bo

    Edes has been tossing around anti-Yankee, pro-Flops inanities since his Yahoo days, particularly as he tried to paint the Yankees as steriod creatiosn in order to justify the Manny-Juicy Papi revelations by acting like ‘everybody did it’. When you see his name pop up, dont’ be surprised if homerism triumphs more often than not.

    • Thomas

      Dare I ask if this is the Bo?

    • Dave

      +1, Bo.

      In fact, +2

  • gargoyle

    Rob Bradford is essentially a mouthpiece for Theo Epstein. Sounds like an effort to smooth the waters with Papelbon.

  • Dave

    The minute I saw that article yesterday, it smacked of propaganda. I completely doubt that Cuza contacted the Red Sox with the intent of getting an offer on Mo. As with the Sox making a throw-away 7-yr offer to Lee, they’re trying to distract & keep the Yankees off-balace in their off-season manuevering. Obviously they made an offer to Mo (knowing he wouldn’t sign) but with the intent to drive up the price on the Yankees offer. It BACKFIRED in the sense that Mo took the SAME amount of money from the Yanks. Because it didn’t work, the Sox decide to “put it out there” that “sources” claim that Mo contacted the Sox, not vice versa.

    Nice try. Bush-league reindeergames, Theo. Good effort, though.