Jonathan Papelbon
Jonathan Papelbon
38-Year-Old PitcherRP
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2019 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for Jonathan Papelbon in 2019. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Released by the Nationals in August of 2016.
Unlikely to sign this season
PFree Agent  
August 31, 2016
Papelbon now appears unlikely to sign with another team this season, WEEI's Rob Bradford reports.
He will need to sign before midnight Wednesday in order to be eligible to to pitch in the postseason, and according to Bradford, that is unlikely to happen. Only contending teams would conceivably see value in bringing Papelbon aboard, so if he remains unsigned on Thursday, he likely won't pitch in the big leagues again until 2017.
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Jonathan Papelbon
The Long Game: The Next Wave
April 27, 2017
Erik Siegrist takes stock of baseball's best prospects, forecasting when they might be brought up to the bigs and the potential impact they'll have on their teams.
Collette Calls: AL LABR Review
March 7, 2017
Jason Collette investigates three fascinating aspects of the recent AL LABR auction -- speed, closers and shiny new toys. How much of a premium did Andrew Benintendi cost?
The Z Files: Closing Arguments
January 11, 2017
Todd Zola examines different approaches for handling saves, and wonders if most fantasy owners are properly pricing the production of elite closers like Kenley Jansen.
Regan's Rumblings: That's a Wrap
September 29, 2016
Dave Regan rumbles one last time this year, this time focusing on some of the biggest free agents of the upcoming offseason and what their fantasy impact could look like in 2017.
Regan's Rumblings: September Call-ups and 2017 Closers
September 1, 2016
Dave Regan uses his rumblings this week to speculate on September call-ups and who might nail down a closer's spot in 2017.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
On the surface, Papelbon's season wasn't too bad. His strikeout rate continues its slow decline and the 24 saves marked his lowest total since he became a closer a decade ago, but his ratios remained excellent and the lack of saves was a function of opportunity on a poor Phillies team rather than any failures on his part. A late-season trade to the Nationals to shore up their bullpen for the stretch run should have boosted his production, but instead he found himself suspended by the organization after he tried to choke out Bryce Harper on national television in a misguided (to put it politely) effort to motivate his new teammates as their playoff hopes slipped away. Papelbon is still under contract through 2016 and Drew Storen was traded in the offseason, so he could return to the Nats as their closer, but it is also possible that the team could find a way to send him packing.
After failing to reach 30 saves in 2013, Papelbon finished with 39 saves last season for a pretty bad Phillies team. Papelbon is no longer the dominant force that he once was while closing games out for the Red Sox. He has seen his velocity drop from the mid-90s to the low-90s over the last four seasons, yet has maintained a solid strikeout rate while keeping the walks in check. Further, he has been able to keep the ball in the park despite a moderate groundball rate. The Phillies would like to trade Papelbon this winter, but finding a taker has been difficult due to his reputation as a clubhouse cancer -- though his fellow relief pitchers often call him an excellent mentor -- and his large salary. He will close if he opens the year back with the Phillies, but will be a strong candidate to be moved by the trade deadline. Ken Giles is next in line for saves and is a worthwhile grab for any Papbelon owner.
Papelbon failed to rack up at least 30 saves last season for the first time in his career as a closer. Some of that can be attributed to the lack of opportunities from a Phillies team that struggled last season, but he also blew seven saves. His surface numbers were solid, but there are signs of decline that raise red flags moving forward. Papelbon's fastball velocity dropped to 92 mph last season which was a 1.8-mph drop from 2013 and a 3.0-mph drop from 2012. His K/9 of 8.3 was the lowest it has been since his first full season in Boston, and the first time it dipped below double digits since 2006. He did improve his walk rate, however, which allowed his K/BB ratio to basically hold steady from last season. Papelbon can still be effective with the lower strikeout rate, but it makes him a riskier investment this season as his margin of error has decreased with diminished stuff. There was mention that a minor hip injury suffered during the season could be to blame for the dip in velocity last year, but scouts were questioning his stuff during spring training. The safer approach in fantasy leagues may be to let others draft Papelbon based on his previous reputation and focus instead on closers with stronger profiles that are not quite as risky.
Papelbon racked up 38 saves in his first season with the Phillies. He maintained an excellent strikeout rate, but did see his walk rate creep up a bit last season. That is nitpicking though, as Papelbon still posted an excellent 5.11 K/BB ratio. He remains an elite option at closer.
Papelbon returned to form last year after a 2010 season that saw him walk more batters than ever, leading to a career-worst 3.90 ERA. In 2011, he reduced his walks, struck out a career-high 87, and saved 31 games -- the sixth straight season with more than 30 saves. That kind of consistency was rewarded with a four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies to become their closer. It's another ideal situation for Papelbon, pitching to save games for starters like Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Papelbon is an elite closer who has proved to be someone capable of the spotlight.
Statistically speaking, Papelbon had his worst season as a closer in 2010, posting career highs in walks, homers, WHIP, runs allowed and blown saves. That said, he still saved 37 games and has averaged 37.5 saves per year the last five seasons. He didn't throw his secondary pitches (split-fingered fastball and slider) last season with much consistency, forcing him to rely on his four-seam fastball, a straighter offering that he struggled to command. He's in his final year before he hits the free-agent market, and the Red Sox are expected to let him walk next winter. They have Daniel Bard waiting in the wings to close, plus the Red Sox signed Bobby Jenks in December. Still, we expect Papelbon to be Boston's closer come Opening Day barring a trade.
A fourth consecutive season of 35-plus saves looks good on Papelbon's resume, but changes to his delivery caused him to struggle with his mechanics. The delivery changes are designed to make him use his legs more instead of putting stress on the arm. However, he issued 24 walks in 68 innings, causing some of those heart-attack saves we hadn’t seen in his first three seasons as Boston’s closer. In addition to the walks, hitters were jumping on his first-pitch strikes and making better contact against him. Nonetheless, Papelbon's results were nearly as impressive as they’ve always been, and he returns as one of the game’s top closers.
Papelbon continued his run as one of the game's best closers in 2008, converting 41 saves while pitching a career-high 69.1 innings. The innings are significant because Papelbon was babied somewhat in 2007 following a shoulder injury in 2006. The organization is still very cognizant of pitch counts, innings and appearances but the heightened scrutiny of Papelbon's usage was less of an issue in 2008. A healthy Papelbon will return to Boston's closer role in 2009.
The Red Sox were going to make Papelbon a starter in 2007, but were forced to shift him to closer after nobody emerged with the job in spring training. Good thing. Papelbon was one of the game's best closers. And the Red Sox were judicious in their use of Papelbon, whose rookie season was cut short by a shoulder injury. He had an 84:15 K:BB ratio in just 58.1 innings, 10 less innings than he pitched in 2006. He's Boston's closer for the next few years.
Papelbon is one of baseball's bigger mysteries heading into 2007. He had an outstanding rookie year as closer, but after the season the Red Sox announced he'd move into the rotation in 2007. What we do know is that Papelbon had a stellar 2006 in every statistical category before injuring his shoulder late in the season. Opponents batted .167 against him with an OBP of .210. If he can even approach these numbers as a starter, he will become an immediate Cy Young contender. In the rotation in the minors, he allowed slightly more than seven hits per nine innings, while striking out nearly 10 batters per nine. Provided he is fully recovered from his shoulder injury, we see Papelbon as a solid No. 2 or 3 starter for Boston.
Papelbon, who projects to be a front-of-the-rotation starter, emerged as an important member of Boston's bullpen in 2005, eventually landing in the setup role after harnessing his high 90s fastball. He closed out the season with a 1.35 ERA in 13 1/3 September innings and may have to start the season in that role because there's a lot of competition for the starting rotation. The Red Sox have been shopping Matt Clement, but are finding clubs more interested in Bronson Arroyo. Either one could be with another club when the 2006 season starts. And David Wells is a lock to be traded at some point. These moves will open up a spot in the rotation for Papelbon.
Papelbon was converted to a starter after Boston drafted him out of Mississippi State in the fourth round of the 2003 draft. And there can be no fault-finding with the season he posted with Single-A Sarasota, with his strikeouts jumping from the page. At 6-4, 220 pounds, he has a good pitcher's body -- some say like Roger Clemens -- and projects as a front-line starter. It's unlikely he makes an appearance with Boston in 2005, but could be ready by 2006.
More Fantasy News
Released by Nationals
PFree Agent  
August 13, 2016
Papelbon was officially released by the Nationals on Saturday, the Washington Post's Chelsea Janes reports.
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Expected to be released by Nationals
PWashington Nationals  
August 13, 2016
Papelbon is expected to be granted his release from the Nationals, the Washington Post's Chelsea Janes reports.
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Out as closer in Washington
PWashington Nationals  
July 30, 2016
Papelbon is out as the Nationals' closer with the team acquiring Mark Melancon from Pittsburgh on Saturday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports.
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Possibly out as closer in Washington
PWashington Nationals  
July 30, 2016
Manager Dusty Baker would not commit to Papelbon remaining the closer when asked about Papelbon's status Saturday, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports.
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Pulled from Thursday's save chance
PWashington Nationals  
July 28, 2016
Papelbon was yanked with one out in the ninth inning Thursday against the Giants after allowing a hit and a walk. He was ultimately charged with a run.
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