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Phillies Sign New Closer

Another week, another free agent Friday. The Phillies have signed former Boston hurler Jonathan Papelbon to a deal to become their new premiere relief pitcher. The deal is done, pending a physical examination and is reportedly worth $50 million over four years. The contract also has a vesting option to increase the length to five years and the value above $60 million. It would be the largest free-agent contract for a reliever in MLB history.

Papelbon, who will turn 31-years-old later this month, has had a more than a solid career to date with the Red Sox. The 4th round pick from the 2003 amateur draft has a career regular season record of 23-19 with a .233 ERA, 219 saves and a .204 batting average against in his 7 year career.

In 18 career postseason contests, Papelbon sports an exceptional 1.00 ERA with a 2-1 record and 7 saves. What's even more impressive is that the Mississippi State product has held the opposition scoreless in all but one of those outings.

Comparatively, exiting Phillies closer Ryan Madson, who was the target of a proposed contract with the Phillies for much of the previous week, has plenty more mileage on his lanky frame than Papelbon does on his more athletic appearing body. Madson, who turned 31 in August, has thrown 208 2/3 more innings in his big league career, including the postseason, than Papelbon has. So, the Philadelphia faithful that figure to miss the "home grown" Madson, who has pitched more games for the Phillies than anyone not named Steve Carlton or Robin Roberts, may find the new guy appealing sooner than later.

The focus for the Phillies now moves toward filling their vacant shortstop position. With another long-time Philadelphia mainstay, Jimmy Rollins, on the free agent market, it remains to be seen how the organization will fill that void. With 21-year-old prospect Freddy Galvis batting .240 through 16 Venezuelan Winter League games, using an in house option may not be the best bet for the five-time defending National League East division champions.

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Photo- AP

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