#2. Jonathan Papelbon
Love him or hate him, Jonathan Papelbon remains the Phillies all-time franchise leader for saves. Despite being labeled as one of the “Top 5 worst free agent signings of the last decade” for the Phillies, Papelbon being traded to a division rival in 2015 was quite the storyline at the time.
Acquired through free agency via a $60 million mega contract in 2012, Papelbon was signed to be the Phillies new closer during the waning years of their championship roster. Replacing Brad Lidge was no easy task, and the Phillies simply weren’t the same team anymore, so public opinion of Papelbon and his huge salary quickly soured. Throw in his regular tantrums and dislike of the fans, and it was simply never a good partnership.
However, Papelbon in all reality had a few very good seasons with the Phillies. Across three and a half years he posted a 2.31 ERA while also recording 123 saves, a franchise record that won’t be beaten anytime soon.
After nearly coming to blows with Philadelphia on-air personality Howard Eskin during the 2015 season, it was clear the closer’s time with the Phillies needed to come to an end. With the trade deadline inching closer, Papelbon repeatedly made it known to the media that he was requesting a trade. On July 28, 2015 he was shipped away to the Nationals, with a certain young prospect by the name of Nick Pivetta coming back in return.
Papelbon’s final two seasons in DC were equally as theatrical as his time in Philadelphia. Just a few weeks after being traded to the team, Papelbon attacked Bryce Harper. Seeing as Harper was the Nationals’ franchise star at the time, fans were furious, even starting up a donation campaign of sorts calling for the closer’s release.
After posting a career worst 4.37 ERA during the 2016 season, Papelbon asked to be released from the Nationals, and the team obliged. While the bag isn’t totally out on Pivetta, this is looking like one of those very rare “lose-lose” trade scenarios.