Update 1035 PM EST: MASN’s Roch Kubatko, also one of the first to report the rumored discussions, gives us an idea of what it would take for Papelbon to become an Orioles.
Phillies have talked to #orioles about Papelbon, but they’d have to eat a lot of that contract.
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) December 21, 2013
As unlikely as it remains that the Phillies can find a trade partner for disgruntled Jonathan Papelbon (who also has a disastrous contract), that doesn’t stop the rumor-mill from turning.
The Orioles have discussed the possibility of a Jonathan Papelbon trade with the Phillies, but Papelbon’s contract is an obstacle. The Phillies owe Papelbon $13MM in both 2014 and 2015, and he also has a $13MM vesting option for 2016.
Without getting into the specifics of the Orioles backing out of the deal with Balfour, all that is important to know, is that he doesn’t appear likely to figure things out with the Orioles. MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles are “moving on from the situation”, and that “the deal is off”.
Here’s where Jonathan Papelbon comes into play.
Papelbon certainly doesn’t have a high trade value, and any potential trade with the Orioles would require the Phillies to likely eat at least $10MM of the remaining $26MM on Papelbon’s deal. But if you can trade Papelbon, eat $10MM and cut your losses, why wouldn’t you?
I will continue to say that Papelbon has the potential to become an explosive situation with the fan-base and in the locker room next season. I would do just about anything, within reason, to move him and avoid that. Eating up to $10MM seems within reason to me.
From the Orioles perspective, they could certainly find cheaper options in free-agency, but would they feel more comfortable with those options?
Fernando Rodney had a lights-out 2012 season (saving 48 of 50 games), but followed that up by blowing eight saves last season. Before 2012, Rodney had been an average closer at best. Plus, he is 36 years-old.
Chris Perez is only 28 years-old, but there are numerous reasons that he is a free-agent. First off, he might not blow many saves, but he gives up a good amount of runs in the ninth inning (4.33 ERA in 2013). Secondly, he may come with some baggage. After getting caught trying to mail marijuana last season, Perez said he was simply attempting to send the weed to his dog. Then again, Jonathan Papelbon
might not be wouldn’t be on the trade market if he didn’t come with his own baggage.
From the Orioles perspective, Papelbon’s name alone, may provide more of a sense of security than Rodney or Perez. And if the Phillies ate $10MM in a trade, then Papelbon would have two-years remaining on his deal, worth just $16MM. The deal that they were going to sign Balfour to was a similar one, at two-years $14MM.
I’m not saying that I would do this deal if I was the Orioles, or that the Phillies would eat $10MM, just that I can make a case for it making sense for the both sides. Don’t hold your breath on this actually happening though.