The Cubs have been discussing Jonathan Papelbon for at least a month and recently engaged in trade talks with the Phillies for him. Those talks may have stalled due to the Phillies demands, but according to a report from Jim Salisbury, Papelbon “would be very interested in joining the Cubs.”
Even with signing RHP Rafael Soriano to a minor league contract this week, the Cubs are exploring ways to improve the bullpen and that includes, according to Ken Rosenthal, trading for Jonathan Papelbon. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have a history with Papelbon and talked to Ruben Amaro Jr. about acquiring his closer.
According to a report from ESPN, the Phillies “have stepped up their efforts to trade away Jonathan Papelbon in recent days.”
The Phillies “have called a number of contenders with potential need for a closer” according to Jayson Stark and told those teams they “would be willing to eat a portion of Papelbon’s remaining $13 million salary for this year, along with a portion of his $13 million vesting option for next season.” Papelbon is owed around $8 million on his 2015 salary.
Ruben Amaro Jr. is looking for ways to improve the return on the players he has made available. Teams have not been willing to pay his asking price for Jonathan Papelbon, much less Cole Hamels. The Blue Jays might be a fit for Papelbon according to Jayson Stark because Toronto has very little financial flexibility to add Papelbon’s salary to their payroll, but have the players in the system to satisfy Ruben Amaro Jr. in a deal for Papelbon.
Buster Olney reported Wednesday that the Phillies “expect too much in their trade discussions, to the degree that talks are stunted.” A rival executive explained to Olney if the Phillies trade Papelbon “they can move a lot of his salary, and there is value in that.” But, according to Olney’s report, Ruben Amaro Jr. is looking for a team to take his contract and give up a package of prospects. The same rival executive told Olney, the Phillies cannot expect both.
Jonathan Papelbon would like to close games for a contender. He is not interested in being a team’s setup man according to Jayson Stark. And based on the way he has pitched throughout his career and this season for the last place Phillies, it is understandable that he does not want to have another role.
With the draft in the rearview mirror, front offices across the league are back to focusing on the big league rosters.
It is going to be an interesting seven weeks leading up to the trade deadline … stay tuned.