Reports: Papelbon Could Go to Brewers

Jonathan PapelbonJonathan Papelbon sat in front of his locker at Miller Park in July and discussed his future with the Phillies.

“Some guys want to stay on a losing team?” he said, expressing a desire to be traded. “That’s mind-boggling to me.”

Yahoo! Sports reported today that the Phillies and Brewers have been in serious discussions about sending Papelbon to Milwaukee – the same place he expressed his desire to be traded — although it will not be easy. Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause and reportedly can block a trade to Milwaukee, although it is highly unlikely he would if given the choice. He also makes $13 million this season and has a 2016 club option worth $13 million that automatically vests if he finishes 48 games this season.

Papelbon is likely to ask a team to pick up the club option before he waives his no-trade rights, although getting the option to automatically vest should not be an issue if he stays healthy. He has finished no fewer than 52 games each of the previous eight seasons, and has averaged 56.4 games finished in that span.

But the prospect of spending another season in Philadelphia might be enough for Papelbon to accept a trade. The Phillies are trading their veterans and said they are unlikely to contend again for another three seasons. It is worth noting similar reports surfaced about Roy Oswalt in 2010, saying he absolutely would not accept a trade to Philadelphia unless the Phillies picked up his 2012 club option. But in the end, faced with spending another season in Houston or getting a shot at a World Series in Philadelphia, Oswalt waived his no-trade rights without the option being picked up.

Papelbon vigorously shook his head no in July when asked if his no-trade clause would be an issue in facilitating a trade.

But the Phillies and Brewers still would have to agree upon how much salary the Phillies would eat and the prospects the Phillies would receive in return.

The Brewers finished 82-80 last season, six games behind the Giants and Pirates for a National League Wild Card berth. The Brewers just traded Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers, but are looking for backend bullpen help.

Papelbon would help a contender. He went 2-3 with a 2.04 ERA and 39 saves in 43 opportunities last season. His 90.7 save completion percentage ranked sixth out of 29 qualifying closers in baseball. His 0.90 WHIP ranked 19th out of 185 qualifying relief pitchers.

His velocity has declined in recent seasons, but last season he learned how to pitch more effectively without it.

Of course, it is believed one reason Papelbon has been difficult to trade is the perception he is a problem in the clubhouse. Major League Baseball suspended him seven games in September after he grabbed his crotch after a blowing a save in Philadelphia. He also has been critical of the Phillies’ front office and coaching staff, although the team’s young relievers have said he has been a positive influence in their development.

“I think there’s a couple clubs out there that could use somebody to close,” Phillies interim president Pat Gillick said this week. “Ruben (Amaro Jr.) has talked to some people. Maybe something will materialize. But the guy has saved 120 games in three years. His record speaks for itself.”

And the notion Papelbon can be difficult?

“I hate to say Pap is Pap,” Gillick said, “but he’s a competitor who likes to win. He goes out there day in and day out. I don’t think at any time this season or during the time we’ve had him that he’s begged out of a situation. Relievers as a group are a little quirky. They’re a little different.”

3 Comments

Papelbon would be a good addition. He had some trouble in Philly, but that was a losing team. He really didn’t want to be there.

Come on, Zolecki! the deal is already done! Are you taking the winter off, too? Pap needs to be in games that matter, and the Phils need to seed which of their young flamethrowers have the stones to be major league closers. Win-win.

Look at that crazy man in that picture! If any team wants to take on that insanity, I say good luck to ’em! We’re all pretty much sick to death of Paps here in Philly!

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