After a loss to the Rockies yesterday, the Phillies fell to 33-37, 8.5 games out of the National League east leading Atlanta Braves. There are still two wild card spots to fall back on, but considering the Phillies have six teams ahead of them in the chase for the NL wild card spots, it’s beginning to feel like the Phillies would be better off selling at the trade deadline and trying to revamp for the for the future. The problem is the Phillies don’t have a ton of pieces currently on their roster, with a ton of trade value. One guy who potentially could, is Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon, in year to of a four-year 50 million dollar deal with the Phillies, is currently 13 for 13 in save opportunities and according to the Boston Globe, Ruben Amaro and the Phillies may capitalize on the value that Jonathan Papelbon has.
The Phillies believe there are at least three teams — Red Sox, Tigers, and Cardinals — that may have some interest in Papelbon at the trade deadline. It’s no secret the Phillies are scouting those teams with Papelbon in mind. Ruben Amaro Jr. came out and said last week that he’s not ready to “blow up” the Phillies. And while the Philadelphia GM is not crazy about moving Cliff Lee, Papelbon could provide the “retooling” with younger players the Phillies need.
The Phillies can scout the Cardinals all that they want, but considering Edward Mujica(19 saves, 1.82 ERA) is an all-star candidate, barring a pre trade deadline meltdown from Mujica, there isn’t a chance that the Cardinals are going to trade for a closer with nearly 30 million dollars left on his deal after this year.
The Red Sox are a team that could intrigue a lot of people, because of Papelbon’s history there. They already lost Joel Hanrahan for the season, and Andrew Bailey doesn’t appear to be the lights-out closer the Red Sox would like to have down the stretch. So Papelbon could make sense there, depending on how real the Red Sox interest in him is. According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, “It’s no secret the Phillies are scouting those teams with Papelbon in mind,” says Cafardo. That is the Phillies scouting the Red Sox because they could be a potential fit. There is no word on on how interested the Sox would be in a Papelbon reunion, just speculation.
The Tigers are the team that makes the most sense to me. Jose Valverde has blown three saves this year, so it isn’t like he can’t be replaced. Owner Mike Illitch is deep pocketed, and because he is 83, desperate to win a World Series sooner rather than later. Those are two things that it will take to land Papelbon. As previously mentioned, after this season Jonathan Papelbon has to-years and nearly 30 million dollars left on his deal, which means whoever trades for Pap will have to a big market team that is willing to take on Papelbon’s large salary. Secondly the Tigers are desperate to win, which means that they would be more willing to both take on Papelbon’s large salary and part with top prospects to land the All-Star.
The Cardinals appear to be a real long-shot to even seriously involve themselves in the Papelbon sweepstakes, and at this point while Pap returning to the Sox would make a better headline, the Tigers appear to be the best fit for Papelbon.