Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has made it very clear that he’d waive his veto rights and welcome a trade to a contender, and Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles talked to “a baseball source” who expects the Dodgers to make a run for the 33-year-old right-hander.
Stockpiling current and former closers is something the Dodgers have done a lot of lately with Brian Wilson, Brandon League, Chris Perez, and Carlos Marmol joining Kenley Jansen in the bullpen at various points since last season.
In this case Papelbon remains a very effective closer for the Phillies, saving 22 games with a 1.21 ERA and 33/9 K/BB ratio in 37 innings. His velocity and strikeout rate are both way down compared to his peak, but Papelbon pitching the eighth inning in front of Jansen would still be plenty scary for opponents.
Plus, if there’s one team that might not care about the $13 million he’s owed for next season it’s probably the Dodgers. After all, they already committed big money to Wilson to fill that same role and instead he’s been injured and ineffective. It’s also worth noting that if the Dodgers acquired Papelbon and shifted him to a setup role the odds of his $13 million option for 2016 vesting based on games finished totals would be very low.
Starter Jeremy Hellickson has become the Phillies’ most enticing trade chip as he’s put together a solid month of July. After shutting out the Marlins on one hit and one walk over six innings on Monday, the right-hander lowered his July ERA to 1.97 and his overall ERA to 3.65. As a result, the Phillies are telling teams they want a top-five prospect to part with Hellickson, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
Obviously, a top-five prospect means something different if you’re the Marlins as opposed to the Rangers. And the Phillies’ price point for Hellickson isn’t likely to stay that high, but GM Matt Klentak is setting a lofty starting point so that the return might end up being higher than market value.
ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that the Phillies could end up holding onto Hellickson and giving him a qualifying offer after the season. He notes that the Phillies have only $25 million tied up for the 2017 season, so they could afford to pay Hellickson in excess of $16 million if he were to accept.
Madison Bumgarner isn’t the only Giants pitcher who can rake. Matt Cain crushed a three-run home run during Tuesday’s game against the Giants.
Cain stepped to the plate with runners on the corner and one out against Reds starter Cody Reed in the bottom of the second inning. Reed threw a 1-1 fastball down the middle and Cain hit it about 20 rows back in the left field seats.
It’s Cain’s first homer of the season, his first since 2012, and the seventh of his 12-year career. He still has some work to catch up to Bumgarner, who has two homers this year and 13 in his career.
On the pitching side of things, Cain got the win against the Reds on Tuesday night, giving up four runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He currently holds an ugly 5.95 ERA.