Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon is a strong possibility to be dealt by next Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but there’s a chance he could stay in the National League East.
According to FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals have had trade talks with the Phillies about Papelbon. Washington is reluctant to take on significant payroll during the season, but the thought is that Philadelphia might be willing to cover a large part of his remaining salary (he’s making $13 million this season) in order to get a deal done. However, there’s one big issue which could keep this thing from happening.
Papelbon’s contract includes a $13 million option for 2016 which vests if he finishes 48 games this year. He’s just 14 away right now and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com hears that he won’t sign off on a deal unless he’s in a position to get his money.
It’s hard to blame the guy. Of course, the Nationals already have an excellent closer in Drew Storen, who has posted a 1.73 ERA and 44/9 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings this season while going 29-for-31 in save chances. Clearly they are looking for additional late-inning help, but Papelbon might not be the best fit. Perhaps his opinion could change if the option is guaranteed as a condition of the deal and the Phillies pick up most of the tab.
Papelbon, who has been vocal about his desire to be traded to a contender, owns a 1.59 ERA with 40 strikeouts and eight walks over 39 2/3 innings this season. He’s a perfect 17-for-17 in save chances for the last-place Phillies.