Phillies Rumors: Cubs, Blue Jays Among Those Team Has Talked with About Jonathan Papelbon

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The Phillies currently sport the worst record in baseball and, aside from Maikel Franco, there is very little to get excited about with regards to the major league team at this early stage of the season. With that reality having set in, the focus now shifts to the trade market and how Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies front office intends on moving some of their high-priced veterans prior to the deadline.

Though starting pitcher Cole Hamels is undoubtedly the headliner of the Phillies prospective trade crop, closer Jonathan Papelbon has performed exceptionally this season and has also garnered interested around the league. Despite a hefty contract as far as relief pitchers go, there are a handful of teams either in contention or on the cusp of contention in dire need of a stable presence at the back-end of the bullpen. Papelbon has evolved as a pitcher who no longer depends on ‘velo’, but a pinpoint control and expanded repertoire to get batters out.

FoxSports.com’s MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal provided an update on the market for Papelbon’s services Wednesday evening. According to him, there are two teams, the Blue Jays and Cubs, who the Phillies have had talks with recently about a potential deal. Here’s a good chunk of what Rosenthal’s piece had to say with regards to how serious the discussions were.

"Here, according to sources, is where the conversations stand:The most recent talks between the Phillies and Jays were late last week. Since then, the Phils have increased their scouting of the Jays’ minor-league affiliates, trying to identify players they might want in a trade.Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause that allows him to block a deal to the Blue Jays, but the Jays do not believe that would be an issue.“Yes, Toronto interests me – if it interests (Phillies general manager) Ruben (Amaro Jr.),” Papelbon told CSNPhilly.com in spring training. “I know some of the guys on their coaching staff. They’re a good team. If Ruben can do a deal with them, I’d be interested.”The Cubs, meanwhile, remain a suitor for Papelbon even after signing free-agent right-hander Rafael Soriano to a minor-league contract Monday that will pay him a pro-rated portion of $4.1 million once he reaches the majors and includes $4 million in incentives.The Cubs, in fact, signed Soriano in part because they did not want to get left without either him or Papelbon. The team, trying to build as many late-inning options as possible, no longer is locked into Hector Rondon as its closer.Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer were with the Red Sox when the team selected Papelbon in the fourth round of the 2003 draft – and when Papelbon helped the Sox win the ‘07 World Series.Though Epstein and Hoyer know Papelbon occasionally is brash and outspoken, they also know teammates respect his work habits and competitive spirit – and that he likely would not cause a distraction in manager Joe Maddon’s clubhouse.The sense among some in the industry, though, is that the Phillies would prefer to deal with the Blue Jays – perhaps because the Jays would offer better terms, perhaps because the Phillies want Papelbon out of the National League."

Earlier in the piece, Rosenthal also provided what appeared to be the most up-to-date status of where the talks stand.

"The Phils have engaged in recent trade discussions with both Blue Jays and Cubs about Papelbon, according to major-league sources. No deal with either club appears close; the talks are at an “impasse,” one source said."

So while it would appear that the lines of conversation are open with the Phillies and other teams around the leagues, nothing appears to be close at this point. It’s possible that a team would prefer to wait as long as possible up until the trade deadline, given Papelbon’s price tag. That being said, the closer has been a subject of trade rumors for the better part of two seasons and these types of reports have surfaced over that time.

Next: Phillies Select Cornelius Randolph with 10th Pick in MLB Draft

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