With a loss to the Nationals last night, the Phillies are seven and a half games out of the division and six and a half out of the second wild card spot. So when Fox’s Jon Morosi tries to make the case that the Phillies should buy at the deadline, I don’t agree. But when CBS’s Danny Knobler says this, it really makes me wonder whether trading Jonathan Papelbon at the deadline is a smart move.
One sign: Phillies scouts have been spotted doing a second tour of the Tigers’ farm system.
It’s not hard to connect the dots and see what that could mean, with the Tigers needing a closer and with Jonathan Papelbon sitting in the Phillies bullpen.
Connecting dots doesn’t always lead to a trade, and people who speak regularly with Tigers management continue to insist they won’t be involved in a Papelbon trade. Money is reportedly the biggest roadblock, with Papelbon making $13 million a year through 2015 (with a vesting option for 2016).
Tigers owner Mike Ilitch has never been shy about spending, but the word is the money will be more of an issue this time around.
So that all but rules out any chance that the Tigers are realistically going to make a push for Papelbon. But hey, the Red Sox are still interested right?
Papelbon’s contract could be an impediment to any trade, whether to the Tigers or anyone else. Papelbon’s reputation doesn’t help, either. He didn’t leave the Red Sox on the best of terms, with more than one source suggesting they wouldn’t take him back under any circumstances.
So the Red Sox are gone, and so are the Tigers. And even if another team gets interested in Papelbon, if they have no competition for him the return isn’t going to be very high.
Not to mention, Papelbon’s value has dropped since we first started having the discussions of trading him. When the idea trading Papelbon was first brought up, he hadn’t blown a save the entire season and appeared to be a lock for the All-Star game. His ten day stretch of blowing four out of five saves kind of killed that. And it isn’t like Papelbon is in a contract year, or is even going to be in one next year. He still has two-years and 26 million dollars remaining on his contract. His value, if anything, will be higher at this time next year, because there is going to be less money left on his deal.
Are the Phillies going to make the playoffs? I don’t know. I hope so, but with no reliable relievers besides Papelbon, I really doubt it. So I’m not against selling at the deadline, but I also don’t want to just give valuable pieces like Papelbon away just because. Trading Papelbon sounded like a decent idea a month ago, but right now it just doesn’t make sense.