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Reports: Phillies Trying to Trade Jonathan Papelbon

Everyone’s favorite Phillie, Jonathan Papelbon, is apparently on the trade block ahead of next week’s Winter Meetings.

For countless possible reasons, including his outrageous $13 million AAV salary, his diminishing fastball velocity, his incredible lack of popularity with fans, and his apparent “clubhouse cancer” reputation, GM Ruben Amaro might be realizing that it’s better to move on from their 5-time all-star closer.

Credit to Ken Rosenthal with the initial report:

Hey there, you, *insert bullpen-help seeking team* fan, don’t let all that stuff I just said discourage you.

Wait! Come back?! Where are you going??

He’s still got a 2.67 ERA during his time in Philly, and averaged 2.0 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 – so you can’t quite say he’s been bad. His salary, though, is outrageous for a closer, and as Jon Heyman is reporting:

Yikes. Coming on the heels of Cole Hamels’ comments earlier in the week, this makes a little sense.

Now, you can’t just say you want to trade Papelbon, not eat the contract, and get a prospect back and have it immediately happen for you – it’s going to be difficult to get a decent trade done.

Given recent signings of Joe Nathan in Texas for $10 million AAV, Oakland’s trade for Jim Johnson (who’s arbitration total looks to exceed $10 million), etc. it looks like if management were willing to eat $3 million/season to accommodate a trade, that would be roughly the market rate.

There are also (still) unfortunately a lot of closers on the open market, limiting the demand for a trade.

Regardless of the trade itself, Amaro’s not only willingness to trade Papelbon, but apparent active shopping of him, should be incredibly encouraging to Phillies fans. Ruben’s been conservative and careful this offseason (holding the previous year’s pattern).

He’s taking some small gambles on youth (Brad Lincoln), and avoiding high priced overpays that require draft picks (Marlon Byrd instead of Nelson Cruz). This is good – and apparently now he’s trying to shed at least one large, awful contract.

No, we’re not winning 100 games this year (as Cole Hamels said), but given some prudent moves, and protecting our prospects, the Phillies are set up much better for the future. Trading Papelbon for nearly ANYTHING would be a great step in that direction.

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  • Mike Lacy

    I’m skeptical they will be able to trade him, but if they manage to do so, it does leave a hole at closer. Do they trust Bastardo? It would be ridiculous if they traded Papelbon only to s[end money on someone like Mujica to replace him.

    • Spencer Bingol

      Yeah, not sure if a trade will actually happen. I don’t think they’d hand closer to Bastardo/Diekman etc. – Ruben strikes me as a man who wants an established answer there, as opposed to the Red Sox who let it develop throughout the season. Mujica was grabbed by Boston a couple days ago, but there’s definitely still a lot of closers out there, however at the going rate it won’t really save us much money over Papelbon.

      So basically, I have no idea.