Papelbon Reportedly Drawing ‘Strong Interest’ Already

WASHINGTON — Well that was fast.

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports Jonathan Papelbon is drawing “strong interest” from multiple teams, and he expects to make a decision on his next team within 24 hours. Crasnick, who helped break the story of Papelbon being released, lists the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs as possible suitors.

Papelbon, who is ninth in MLB history with 368 saves, played with Boston for the first seven years of his big-league career, helping them win a World Series in 2007. He saved at least 35 games in five straight seasons from 2006 to 2010, then he saved 31 in his final season with the Red Sox before taking over the closer role for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012.

The Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman just a few days before the Nationals traded for Mark Melancon. Chapman has saved four of five opportunities since joining the Cubs, and he’s allowed just one earned run and two hits while striking out 13 in 8.2 innings.

However, Chicago is going all in on this season, desperate to break a World Series drought that’s lasted since 1908. If it thinks Papelbon can help deliver a championship, it would likely pull any necessary strings to bring him aboard.

The Cubs are 73-43, 3.5 games ahead of the Nationals for the best record in baseball. They’re virtual locks to make the postseason, but they have higher aspirations than a postseason berth.

The Red Sox are 65-52, in third place in the American League East but just 1.0 games behind the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. They’re very much in the playoffs chase, and some bullpen help would be a nice boost for their chances.

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