There’s no denying Jonathan Papelbon is a fierce competitor.
The five-time All-Star signed a $50 million contract with the Phillies back in 2011 because he felt he had a good chance to win baseball games and compete for a World Series.
But if you have listened closely to the Phillies’ outspoken closer, who is four saves away from breaking the club’s all-time record in that category, it’s clear he’s doesn’t think that’s possible with their current lineup.
In fact, Papelbon wants out. He thinks he can help a contending team win a championship, and said he will be disappointed if the Phillies are unable to move him this season.
“Yeah, I will be,” Papelbon said in an interview with CSNPhilly.com Phillies Insider Jim Salisbury. “If we continue to lose.
“If we can rebuild this situation and make it right, and we can get some wins underneath our belt and Ryne Sandberg can get us going, that’s a whole different story. To me, that’s a better part of the story because now I’ve been a part of this remodeling. I’ve been a part of getting this bullpen correct. I’ve been a part of something that’s becoming a winning tradition and going back to the way it was before I got here. To me, there’s no better reward than that.”
Papelbon has never been afraid to speak his mind. He doesn’t care what fans think about him, either. Right now, his only concern is closing out games.
The 34-year-old, however, raised eyebrows earlier this month when he said he doesn’t “feel much like a Phillie” and pined for his old club, the Boston Red Sox.
“I’m not here to be disrespectful,” Papelbon said. “I’m not gonna sit here and give you the old cliche ‘we’re gonna try to do good, hopefully everything turns out good.’ That’s just not me, that’s not how I pitch, that’s not who I am. What I meant is, when my career is all said and done, like we were talking about earlier, I’m gonna look back and feel like I was part of a Red Sox franchise more than I was with the Phillies. Just like Jayson Werth would probably say he’s more of a Phillie than a National.”
Still, Papelbon has no regrets about his decision to come to Philadelphia.
“No, no regrets,” he said. “I signed here. These guys gave me the largest contract in baseball history for a closer. Yeah, it’s frustrating when you come here and you expect certain things, and my competitiveness is such a high level, when that doesn’t happen and you put so much into it and you don’t get what you necessarily want out of it, yeah I say that’s frustrating. That’s frustrating for anyone. I think I just tend to be more vocal about it and that’s it.”
Papelbon also made it clear he’s not interested in playing another season clouded by trade rumors. If it’s possible, he wants to get a deal done.
“I will be disappointed if this continues to happen,” he said.
“If we continue to do the same things as we’ve done the last couple years with me, where we try to do something and get something done with me and then nothing still happens.”
Papelbon is off to a strong start to the 2015 season. In six appearances, he’s allowed just one hit, no walks and has struck out six batters. He’s also converted all three of his save attempts.
So, if given the opportunity, could Papelbon capture a second World Series title before his career comes to a close?
“Yeah, 100 percent,” he said. “That’s what I come to work for every single day.”