The Philadelphia Phillies have faced criticism for the contract handed to closer Jonathan Papelbon from the moment the two parties put pen to paper. And while the results from their $50 million closer have been better in 2014 (11 saves, 1.65 ERA), there is still tension between him and the team this season.
Manager Ryan Sandberg clashed with Papelbon once again last week when he wanted him to close three straight days and Papelbon said he was too sore. “We need a closer that can go three games in a row and close three games, no question about that,” Sandberg said. “He was up and down a couple times on Friday and that’s just normal baseball stuff. Then he had seven pitches and 14 pitches. So I need him to go out that third day and be our closer in a series like that, in any scenario like that.” Papelbon said he didn’t regret saying he was unavailable.”
You would figure that Philadelphia’s inclination to trade Papelbon will be stronger now than ever; if he has increased his value by pitching well, the Phillies can move now and get out from under his contract while also parting with a player who is clashing with their first year manager.
If you were the Phillies, knowing the volatility of closers in this league and the way their effectiveness comes and goes, wouldn’t you trade Papelbon if you could? Even if you only got 70 cents on the dollar for him? Given that contract and the potential for more drama, I have to believe the Phillies will consider a more aggressive tact in trade talks in the coming months.