Now that the Philadelphia Phillies have signed Jonathan Papelbon away from Boston. The Red Sox now must make a decision on who they want as a closer. Luckily, the closer market this season is rich and if there was ever a time to lose your closer, this was the year.
We start with Heath Bell. Bell has been a rock in the San Diego Padres bullpen for the past three seasons. Bell has racked up 132 saves during his time as closer in San Diego, but San Diego is a small market team so he might not return. He would prefer a West Coast team as he is from California. The Dodgers and potentially the Angels are interested in his services, but the Dodgers can't sign any free agents until they get a new owner, which could take a while. The Angels have a young closer in Jordan Walden, so the Angels could be out of play. Bell could very well take a pay cut to stay in San Diego where he loves it and has expressed his desire to stay.
What about the Phillies former closer Ryan Madson? Madson's demands led to the Phillies going elsewhere and signing Papelbon. Ryan Madson is a good closer, don't get me wrong, but he hasn't been a closer long enough to get the contract he wants. The Red Sox might just overpay to get Madson since the Red Sox are now desperate for a closer. The Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins are also interested in Madson.
Jose Valverde had a perfect season in 2011 going 49 for 49 in save opportunities. Valverde, however, is 33 and you don't really want to give him a long term deal, you really don't want to give any closer a long term deal. The Detroit Tigers have made Valverde their number one priority and it doesn't appear that Valverde doesn't want to leave Detroit and vice versa.
Jonathan Broxton looks like an intriguing choice to land in Boston. He would be a low risk, high reward signing, you sign Broxton to a one year deal just to see if he has anything left. He lost his closing job in Los Angeles after injury problems and lack of confidence. Broxton would really cost that much and the Sox should take a look at him.
Joe Nathan is much like Broxton, he would be cheap and you could get a lot out of him if he can find his stuff again. Nathan showed that he can close games while in Minnesota becoming the Twins all time saves leader in 2011. Nathan lost his job in Minnesota to Matt Capps and the Twins most likely won't re-sign Nathan. However, Nathan does have injury problems, he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 and has had shoulder problems back to when he was with the Giants.
A friend of mine suggested that Jamie Moyer could become a closer. Moyer's fastball was clocked at 83 MPH and in Fenway Park , if an opposing player got a hold of that it is an automatic home run.
Looking inside the Red Sox, Daniel Bard appears to be the only option. Bard was once considered to be the heir apparent to Papelbon, but Bard's September struggles showed Boston he is not yet ready to be a closer. The Red Sox might have to turn to a closer by committee situation that blew up in their faces years earlier. It is in my opinion that the Red Sox are probably going to overpay for a closer just to get a closer and they will probably sign Ryan Madson in a tit-for-tat move with the Phillies. I really think they should look at Broxton as I believe he still has stuff in the tank and could be an under the radar signing for the Sox.