The Brewers finalized a one-year, $3 million contract with veteran left-handed reliever Neal Cotts on Friday, but they are still in the market for a closer.
Jonathan Broxton currently projects to be the team’s closer for 2015, but Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com yesterday that they would still like to add “another veteran presence” if possible. There are a handful of options out there, including Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano on the free agent market and Jonathan Papelbon via trade. However, the Brewers aren’t currently interested in Soriano and it appears that trade talks for Papelbon don’t have much momentum at the moment.
“I can’t really handicap it for you,” Ash said. “One step in one area forces you to go in another direction.”
Asked to characterize talks with the Phillies for Papelbon, Ash said, “It’s there, but not much has happened lately.”
Trading for Papelbon would be complicated, as he’s owed $13 million this season and his contract carries a $13 million option for 2016 which vests if he finishes 48 games this season. The Brewers are on Papelbon’s no-trade list, so he will likely ask for the option to be guaranteed in order to approve a deal. The Phillies would presumably have to kick in some cash to make it feasible.
Papelbon has remained plenty effective despite diminished velocity, posting a 2.04 ERA and 63/15 K/BB ratio over 66 1/3 innings last season while going 39-for-44 in save opportunities.