It's no secret that Jonathan Papelbon wants out of Philadelphia. He was on the trade block last July, but didn't get moved. He put his house up for sale last winter thinking a trade was inevitable. It didn't happen. Never one to keep his mouth shut for long, Papelbon was very blunt last week when questioned about his desire to get moved to a contender.
He may finally be getting his wish. ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the Phillies may be "pushing to finish" a deal to ship Papelbon elsewhere before the trade deadline. With many teams seeking relief help -- including the Detroit Tigers, no doubt -- and few legitimate sellers on the market, the candid 34-year-old could be a valuable acquisition.
Over the past few seasons, one of the biggest concerns about Papelbon was his contract. He signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies prior to the 2012 season, the largest ever for a relief pitcher at the time. Even today, $13 million is a ton to pay for a reliever, but with only a vesting option for 2016 remaining, Papelbon's contract is no longer the albatross it once was. The Tigers have the means to take on part (if not all) of his contract, which could help keep their trade cost down as well.
At 34, Papelbon is no longer the mid-90s flamethrower that we saw come up through the Boston Red Sox organization. His fastball has touched 95 miles per hour this season, but is averaging just 92.1 miles per hour. No matter, though. Papelbon is coming off an All-Star selection, the sixth of his career and second with the Phillies. He has a 1.77 ERA and 5.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35 2/3 innings. He is 15-for-15 in save opportunities and has a 1.01 WHIP.
MLB Daily Dish reports that Papelbon is one of several high-profile relief pitchers on the market this summer, which could entice the Phillies to wait until the winter to deal him. With 31 games finished already this season, Papelbon is just 24 away from vesting his $13 million option for 2016. They would be wise to deal him now, though, as teams often pay a premium for top-flight talent at the trade deadline.