The Brewers are trying to trade for Jonathan Papelbon

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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.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.