Jonathan Papelbon and the Red Sox agreed to one-year contracts, avoiding arbitration.
Papelbon's deal is a record for a first-year arbitration-eligible relief pitcher. The agreements also extend Theo Epstein's streak of never having gone to arbitration with any player during his six-plus years as Boston's general manager.
The right-handed Papelbon went 5-4 with a 2.34 ERA in 2008 and recorded 41 saves, which was good for the third-most in the American League. The 28-year- old is one of four pitchers ever to record 30 or more saves in at least each of his first three big-league seasons, joining
Billy Koch (4), Kazuhiro Sasaki (3) and Todd Worrell (3).
Papelbon has emerged as one of the top closers in the game, saving 41 games in 46 chances last year, when he earned $800,000. He has 113 saves in 128 chances and a 1.84 ERA in 3 1/2 seasons in Boston.
The agreement makes Papelbon the 11th-highest-paid closer in the game in terms of average annual value.
Additionally lefty reliever Javier Lopez signed for $1.35 million, an increase from his 2008 salary of $840,000.