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Sources: Mariano Rivera initiated contact with Red Sox

12.12.10 at 11:09 pm ET
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According to multiple major league sources, Mariano Rivera’s representatives were the ones to initiate contact with the Red Sox in an attempt to get the team interested in the closer. While the Red Sox would ultimately make a two-year offer to Rivera, according to sources the team’s expectation was that he would be returning to the Yankees. The 41-year-old ultimately re-signed with New York, securing a two-year, $30 million deal.

While there was some thought that because of the offer to Rivera the Red Sox were prepared to non-tender closer Jonathan Papelbon, separate sources suggest the Sox were never inclined to let Papelbon become a free agent this offseason. In the short-term, the team valued the reliever’s presence in the back-end of its bullpen, while long-term it coveted  any draft picks that might come the Sox’ way if Papelbon were to sign elsewhere in free agency next year. The Sox’ closer is arbitration-eligible for a third time, and is heading into the final season of being controlled by the Sox.

The current system allows teams to gain draft picks for players viewed as ‘Type A’ or ‘Type B’ free agents if those players are offered arbitration by their clubs, and then sign with another organization. There is some doubt that the new collective bargaining agreement (the current one extends through the 2011 season) will allow the process to remain intact, but many executives still believe the upcoming group of free agents will be ‘grandfathered’ in for next year’s offseason. Papelbon, who almost certainly would be a ‘Type A’ free agent, would fall into that group.

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