Sox open to trading Papelbon this spring and this summer

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The Red Sox signed closer Jonathan Papelbon to a one-year contract last week that will grant him a $12 million salary in 2011. But there’s a chance he won’t be in Boston for the entire year.

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox are open to trade offers for the 30-year-old now, will be open to trade offers during spring training and will probably listen to trade offers during the regular season as well.

Papelbon posted a relatively pedestrian 3.90 ERA and 1.27 WHIP across 67 innings in 2010, blowing eight saves in 45 chances.  The Red Sox have two internal replacements in Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks, and they’d certainly love to get rid of Paps’ monstrous salary commitment.

A trade is going to be incredibly difficult, of course.  Papelbon probably isn’t an elite reliever anymore and few teams are going to be willing to take on all of his remaining money.  But Boston could eat part of it and try to force something in a kind of salary dump.  They won’t get much young talent in return.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.