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Sox come to terms with Ellsbury, Papelbon

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  January 18, 2011 02:49 PM

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The Red Sox, as expected, avoided arbitration hearings with Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon.

Ellsbury agreed to one year and $2.4 million with bonuses of $50,000 for 600 and 700 plate appearances.

Papelbon agreed to one year and $12 million. Both players had been tendered contracts in December, committing them to the Red Sox for the coming season.

Sean McAdam of CSNNE broke the news of the deals.

The Red Sox have not gone to arbitration with a player since 2002, before Theo Epstein became general manager. There was little chance of that happening again and, in fact, the sides apparently did not get to a point where figures were exchanged. The deadline came today.

This is the first year that Ellsbury was eligible for arbitration. This was the third and final year for Papelbon. The closer will become a free agent after the season, something he has repeatedly said he desires.

Ellsbury played only 18 games last season because of rib fractures and hit .192. But determining a salary through the arbitration process is based largely on the salaries of players of comparable age, position, and accomplishment. Ellsbury is a career .291/.344/.405 hitter with 136 stolen bases. That led to a significant raise from the $496,000 he made last season.

Papelbon had a career-worst 3.90 earned run average in 2010, going 5-7 with eight blown saves. He also allowed seven home runs, the most in his six-year career. But Papelbon has a career ERA of 2.22 and a WHIP of 1.033 along with 188 saves and postseason success.

His salary has climbed from $775,000 to $6.25 million (2009), $9.35 million (2010) and now $12 million via arbitration.

Among relievers, only Mariano Rivera of the Yankees, at $15 million, will make more than Papelbon in 2011. The Red Sox briefly pursued Rivera before he returned to the Yankees, leading to speculation that they would have been willing to part with Papelbon.

Instead, they elected to retain Papelbon and signed former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks to a two-year deal to become one of his set-up men. With Jenks and Daniel Bard under control for 2012, this season could well be the final one for Papelbon as a member of the Red Sox.

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