The Phillies are once again hoping to shop Jonathan Papelbon. They may have traded Papelbon last season, but his rough stretch happened to come at the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. But, in this trade market of inflation and only so-so closers available, the Phillies may have an opportunity to trade Papelbon.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted yesterday that the Phillies are trying:
Sources: #Phillies trying to trade Papelbon.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2013
The question is, of course, could the Phillies find a suitor? I think so.
The Detroit Tigers signed an older Joe Nathan to close for them for two years, $20 million. Papelbon is due two years, $26 million. A $13 million option could vest. A team may not want to pay the whole thing, but the Phillies could kick in some money to bring the cost to an acquiring team to about what Nathan is getting from Detroit. Nathan just turned 39. Having Papelbon is no more risky than Nathan would be.
Further, would a team spend $9 -11 million a year for Grant Balfour when they could get Papelbon for around $10 million? Balfour is 36 years old; Papelbon just turned 33. Two years of Papelbon (and a third if he is good) could be a lot better for a team.
Who would the Phillies get? Joel Sherman had an idea today:
Does it make sense? No. Chase Utley is not moving to third base. They tried that twice and gave up on it twice. Besides, third base is the ONE position they have with young players that possibly could join the major league roster. I think that Phillips is worth more than Papelbon, though. If somehow they could work that out, the Phillies would have no trouble trading Phillips to another team. Unless Phillips is willing to forgo his gold glove second base abilities to play center field, that won't happen.
The Reds could use Papelbon, should they (stupidly, in my opinion) move Chapman to the starting rotation. The Reds have a rotation spot that Bronson Arroyo once occupied and could fill that spot that way. But with a rotation of Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Tony Cingrani, there really does not appear to be a spot in the rotation for Chapman, unless the Reds were to trade Bailey, a free agent to be.
The Texas Rangers let Joe Nathan depart as a free agent and currently have no one designated to be the team's closer. Neftali Feliz once held down that job, but was moved to the starting rotation after he couldn't close the door in the World Series one out away from a World Championship...twice. Feliz, coming off of Tommy John surgery, would be an interesting trade for Papelbon. The Phillies could use him in the rotation or the bullpen.
If Papelbon is traded, who closes? Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is the closer-type. Currently penciled into the starting rotation, he may fit best in the bullpen as a closer. He could be the Phillies' closer for the duration of his three-year deal, while a live arm such as Jake Diekman could also close. Clearing much of Papelbon's salary could give the team some options down the road.