Analysis

Report: Dodgers, Cubs, Jays no longer pursuing Papelbon

The three teams previously believed to be likely landing spots for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon have reportedly backed off the 34-year-old, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

Anonymous sources have told ESPN that the Dodgers, Cubs, and Blue Jays are all no longer pursuing the outspoken closer. With this news, there is a strong possibility that the Phillies will be unable to move Papelbon before the July 31 trade deadline.

Papelbon has expressed a desire to be traded to a contender. His most recent comments came during the All-Star Break, where a candid Papelbon addressed the media in regards to the trade deadline.

“That’s not what I signed up for,” Papelbon said. “I signed up with a team that won 102 games, and I expected certain things. It didn’t happen, and I’ve tried to ride that ship and keep my mouth shut as much as I can. But it’s time for the Phillies to you-know-what or get off the pot.

“I feel like three years is plenty enough time to ride it out, so to speak. If the fans don’t understand that, I can’t really side with them.”

Recent moves by the formerly interested clubs seem to indicate a disinterest in Papelbon. The Cubs have called up veteran reliever Rafael Soriano, who has career ERA of 2.85 to go along with 207 career saves. The Blue Jays are moving 23-year-old starter Aaron Sanchez (5-4 3.55 ERA) to the bullpen following his rehab assignment, and the Dodgers have listed starting pitching as their top priority as the deadline approaches.

For the Phillies, Papelbon’s $13 million vesting option, which vests if he finishes just 15 more games, is proving to be a major obstacle.  His contract, age, and perhaps his abrasive personality are potentially major deterrents in the eyes of other GMs. The right-hander has proven his worth on the mound this season though, converting each of his 16 save opportunities while posting a 1.63 ERA. He earned the win in yesterday’s game, pitching two innings of relief for the second time this season.

There’s a strong possibility that the trade deadline comes and goes and Papelbon is still on the club. With eight days left, before the deadline, the front office will need to get creative if they hope to move their all-time saves leader.

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