The Philadelphia Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to an absurdly expensive contract when they made him their closer back in 2012. All parties, whether those involved or those observing from the outside, had to know that it was an overpay (four years, $50 million).
The Phillies could not have felt great about it, and even Papelbon might have quietly admitted that the money in the deal was excessive.
$13 million. That is the number attached to Papelbon this year, next year, and possibly the season after that. Many teams are interested in having Papelbon pitch for them late in games, but none of them are interested in paying that much for his services.
With that in mind and with the financial flexibility to work it out, Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated that the team would be willing to eat salary if they found the right trade for Papelbon. According to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Amaro is on record as saying he would eat some salary to move certain players. Papelbon is likely one of them. The team, sources say, was willing to eat up to half of Papelbon’s salary in the offseason. Papelbon is having an excellent season so it’s unclear whether the Phillies would still be willing to eat that much.
Salisbury notes that the usual suspects, teams like the Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants, and Baltimore Orioles, are at the top of the list of potential suitors for Papelbon. Not to be forgotten are those Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that has been linked to Papelbon in recent days.
On the one hand the Dodgers might not be the best fit because they would not use Papelbon to close, a possibility he is not happy about. On the other hand, the Dodgers print money and would surely require no help absorbing Papelbon’s contract. That would be appealing to the Phillies.
The Jonathan Papelbon era in Philadelphia has been a complicated one, thanks in large part to the size of his contract. It sounds like momentum is building for the two sides to part ways this summer, even if the Phillies have to eat money to make it happen.