In the end, business is business.
Ben Cherington said tonight that Jonathan Papelbon and his agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, never gave the Red Sox a chance to match the offer from Philadelphia.
Not that Cherington expected that chance.
“We didn’t have that conversation,” Cherington said. “I don’t think he owes a phone call back. Based on conversations I’ve had with Sam and Seth, we weren’t going to be able to bridge that gap at this point in the offseason.
“We certainly wanted to leave the door open if we got deeper into the offseason and circumstances changed for either side. Perhaps there was something that could have been worked out. But at this point in the offseason, this early, there wasn’t enough common ground. So we didn’t make an offer and because of that it wouldn’t be fair to expect them to come back to us.”
Papelbon was clearly intent on landing a record deal. With Daniel Bard available — and a market full of other closers — the Red Sox weren’t the team to make that happen.
“I’ve had a lot of discussions with Sam and Seth about concepts and to this point, it’s been clear where we see it and what we’d be willing to do at this point in the offseason given what our other needs are and what we feel the alternatives are is not something that matched up with what Pap was looking for. Because of that, we never made a formal offer.”
Cherington didn’t seem overly concerned with finding a closer.
“We do believe we have a couple of internal options to close,” he said. “We feel like there are alternatives both internal and perhaps external as well. It’s a bountiful closer market relative to some years. We just felt like right now the focus was going to be on other areas of the team.”
Daniel Bard is clearly in the mix.
“I think Daniel would embrace more responsibility,” Cherington said. “Daniel’s one of the most prepared and conscientious guys that we have in that clubhouse. He’s proven he’s an elite major league pitcher. I think that he would embrace more responsibility and he’s ready for more responsibility. We’re not ready to commit to any role for Daniel or anyone else in the bullpen but he’s certainly ready for more responsibility if given to him.”
Cherington said that Alfredo Aceves has been told to come to spring training prepared to start, something they have not said to Bard. Bobby Jenks, recovering from a pulmonary embolism, is set for back surgery in December and should be ready to pitch in games at some point in spring training.
Cherington said that while he would have loved to keep Papelbon, he knew this day was coming.
“Pap has worked extremely hard to put himself in position to go into free agency coming off a really successful season. We knew he was going to be in demand, and we knew teams that were in position to win would have interest in him, and certainly Philly is one of them, if that’s where he ends up,” he said.