Boston's primary aim seems to have been to get some return for their closer before turning around and spending the money freed up by the deal on Rafael Soriano. For either part of the deal to get done, the other would likely have had to be a sure thing--the Sox would not trade Papelbon without being certain they could replace him with Soriano, and they wouldn't sign Soriano unless they knew they could find a landing place for Papelbon. According to Heyman, it was the likelihood of a salary like the $12 million Papelbon received on Tuesday that had teams shying away from any trade.
After having by far the worst season of his career last year, there was even some inkling that Papelbon might be non-tendered this winter with such a wealth of relief talent on the market. But with players like Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano signing large, multi-year deals, the Sox' path of avoiding a major shakeup in favor of adding a solid setup man like Bobby Jenks might turn out to be the wisest approach in the end.