Jonathan Papelbon said there were other suitors for his services, but he wanted to make things happen in Philadelphia.
Thus the former Boston Red Sox closer was introduced to the media after signing a four-year, $50,000,058 contract with the Phillies that includes a vested option for a fifth season. (The 58 dollars were added because Papelbon wears No. 58.)
Papelbon, who turns 31 on Nov. 23, was 4-1 with 31 saves and 2.94 ERA in 63 appearances for the Boston Red Sox this past season. He had a career-best 87 strikeouts in 641/3 innings.
"We discussed a few other options . . . my agents called me every day [about] what could possibly happen," Papelbon said at a well-attended Monday news conference at Citizens Bank Park on Monday. "One day, I finally told him - I said, 'I want to play for the Phillies and let's make it happen.' "
He received the call two days later.
Even with signing Papelbon, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said, the team has the ability to bring back free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
"Yes, we have the flexibility [to sign Rollins] and the flexibility to do things and, hopefully, we will put the right pieces together," Amaro said.
Papelbon said there were discussions with Boston about returning to the Red Sox, but nothing substantial. Either way, he said, he has been impressed with the makeup of the Phillies since competing against them in interleague play.
"I really admire the way they play and the way they grind it out, and I feel like the guys in clubhouse, the way they play the game of baseball, is the way I play the game," he said. "I am excited to meet the guys and go out and compete with them."
This past season, Papelbon became the first closer in major league history to collect at least 30 saves in each of his first six full big-league seasons.
A four-time all-star, he is 23-19 with 219 career saves and a 2.33 ERA. He has averaged 10.7 strikeouts per 9 innings.
In 18 postseason appearances he is 2-1 with a 1.00 ERA and seven saves in eight chances. He has 23 strikeouts in 27 postseason innings.
"We wanted to make sure we had a closer and Papelbon was probably the best out there as far as experience and stuff-wise," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "At the end of season his stuff came back and his velocity stayed high."
Papelbon's deal ended discussions with last season's closer, Ryan Madson, who turned 31 in August. Phillies team president David Montgomery said that there was never a deal with Madson last week, despite reports that suggested the two sides had come to an agreement.
Madson's agent Scott Boras declined to elaborate on the failed talks and that reports of a four-year, $44-million agreement were preliminary.
"The Phillies had to make a choice," Boras said at the GM meetings in Milwaukee. "For me, they made that choice. We're just moving forward."
Inquirer staff writer Matt Gelb contributed to this report.