At any given moment the reported trade interest in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon is seemingly either non-existent or vast. Reality is probably somewhere in between, depending on how much Philadelphia is asking for in return and how much of his remaining contract general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is willing to eat.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com there was a “heavy scouting presence” to watch Papelbon’s appearance Thursday in which he recorded a nine-pitch save against the Orioles. Rosenthal also says there are “other teams inquiring” about Papelbon in addition to the Blue Jays and Cubs.
Papelbon has been incredible this season with a 1.01 ERA and 31/7 K/BB ratio in 27 innings, but because late leads are so few and far between for the Phillies his workload has been sporadic. He’s appeared in just 26 of the team’s 68 games, which is tied for the fifth-most appearances in the Phillies’ bullpen. And even within that nearly 40 percent of Papelbon’s work this season has come in low-leverage situations where manager Ryne Sandberg was just trying to get the closer some work after previously refusing to use him in more important non-save situations.
Papelbon has little use to the last-place Phillies and is still pitching like an elite reliever, so perhaps we’re finally nearing an actual trade after years of speculation.
Victor Martinez is off the disabled list and ready to resume being the Tigers’ starting designated hitter after missing the past month with inflammation in his surgically repaired left knee.
Martinez returned sooner than planned from the surgery that was initially expected to potentially knock him out for Opening Day, but he was clearly playing at less than full strength. He hit just .216 with one homer and a .578 OPS in 34 games, compared to hitting .335 with 32 homers and a league-leading .974 OPS in 151 games last season.
It was painful to watch Martinez try to fight through the injury at times, particularly when he was obviously struggling to put any weight on his left leg on swings, but Detroit’s lineup could certainly use a boost. Since scoring double-digit runs in back-to-back games in mid-May the Tigers have a sub-.700 OPS with an average of 3.7 runs per game in their last 30 games.
They’re also heavily invested in getting Martinez healthy and keeping him healthy, because he’s 36 years old and in the first season of a four-year, $68 million contract.
Pitching prospect Matt Wisler, whom the Braves acquired from the Padres in the Craig Kimbrel trade on April 5, will make his MLB debut tonight against the Mets.
Baseball America ranked Wisler as its No. 44 prospect last year and No. 34 prospect this year. He hasn’t pitched particularly well at Triple-A, starting 22 games there for the Padres last season and 12 games there for the Braves this season with a combined 4.76 ERA and 150/49 K/BB ratio in 182 innings.
However, he’s just 22 years old and throws strikes while inducing lots of ground balls to potentially make up for the mediocre strikeout rate. He’s stepping into the rotation to replace fellow top prospect and trade pickup Mike Foltynewicz, who was demoted back to Triple-A earlier this week at age 23.