Here’s one that wouldn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense: why trade for a $13 million closer when the guy who saved 44 games for you last season is still sitting there with no takers in free agency?
Alas, the Brewers are looking to acquire Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies, says Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan. Unclear is whether Milwaukee is one of the 17 teams on Papelbon’s no-trade clause. Also unclear is whether Papelbon would block a deal if he could.
The 34-year-old Papelbon is coming off a fine season for the Phillies, albeit one that involved an unfortunate crotch-grabbing incident in September. He finished with a 2.04 ERA and a 63/15 K/BB ratio in 66 1/3 innings, allowing just two homers in the process.
Still, even with last year’s success, it’s hard to get excited about Papelbon these days. His former mid-90s fastball has dropped by one mph annually the last three years, and his strikeout rate has tumbled with it. He’s also owed $13 million next year with a $13 million vesting option for 2016 that kicks in with 48 games finished. That’s a figure he’s reached nine years running.
One wonders why the Brewers wouldn’t just re-sign Francisco Rodriguez instead. He’s probably going to to have to settle for half of what Papelbon is making. He wasn’t quite as effective as Papelbon last year, because he allowed a whopping 14 homers, but that looks like something of a fluke. His strikeout rates are better than Papelbon’s of late, and he’s stopped walking batters these last two years. He’s also actually over a year younger than Papelbon, though he would seem to have more mileage on his arm.
Also out there is Rafael Soriano, who might settle for even less than Rodriguez just to remain a closer. Other than Toronto, there aren’t any clear opportunities for ninth-inning guys out there, and it seemed like the Brewers were playing it smart, waiting for one of the veterans to cave and sign cheap. As is, they do have Jonathan Broxton available to pitch the ninth, but they’d still need a guy for the eighth inning anyway.
So, why move on if you’re the Brewers? Maybe K-Rod still isn’t willing to settle and ownership is getting antsy. Maybe the Phillies are willing to pay a substantial portion of Papelbon’s salary and still settle for meager talent in return. Because if the Brewers do give up any talent for Papelbon when a seemingly equal bet in Rodriguez is still sitting out there without a suitor, it’d seem to be an awful waste of resources.