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Report: Phillies and Orioles have discussed Jonathan Papelbon

Dec 20, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT

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The quickly souring four-year $50 million deal the Phillies gave Jonathan Papelbon two years ago, and the Orioles’ recent fiasco with Grant Balfour  may make the two teams unexpected trade partners. MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Phillies and Orioles have discussed a trade involving closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Kubatko adds that the Phillies would have to eat “a lot” of Papelbon’s remaining $26 million over the next two seasons. Papelbon also has an option for 2016 worth $13 million which vests if he finishes 55 games in 2015 alone, or combines to finish 100 games in 2014 and ’15, so it could be $39 million if Papelbon stays healthy and productive.

Since becoming a Phillie after the 2011 season, Papelbon has posted a 2.67 ERA and saved 67 games, striking out 149 and unintentionally walking 27 in 131.2 innings of work. However, there are warning signs that should concern any team looking to acquire the 33-year-old right-hander. According to FanGraphs, Papelbon’s fastball averaged 95 MPH in 2011, but dropped to 93.8 and 92.0 in the following two seasons. As a result, his strikeout rate declined from 34 percent in 2011 and 32 percent in 2012 to a mere 22 percent this past season.

If $15 million over two years is too much for a supposedly injury-prone closer for the Orioles, it’s hard to imagine how much of Papelbon’s contract the Phillies could actually eat to make him in any way more attractive to the O’s than Balfour.

  1. jamesthegreat03 - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    For christmas i want this clown gone, this is going to be a long season and i dont need to hear his gigantic mouth through it all.

    • kramden17 - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:14 AM

      Hey James…quit you whining. You don’t have a clue about what a competitor goes through. Last time I checked, they ALL wish to win. Calling this closer a Clown, when you’re nowhere near a locker room, is beyond ignorant.

      • jamesthegreat03 - Dec 21, 2013 at 11:26 AM

        Bro I play baseball, football and hockey for my highschool, but i guess you’re right i do not know what being a competitor is.

    • mox19380 - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      i want this clown gone too. the last straw for me was after a week stretch where he had 10 blown saves in a six game stretch (obvious hyberbole) and then he has the cajones to come out and complain about the team’s performance (“this isn’t what i came here for”)…Ruben could do one thing right and send this guy packing, and maybe sneak j-roll’s entitled ass in his luggage on the way out

  2. NYTolstoy - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the phillies trade him and then sign Balfour?

    • tcclark - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:25 PM

      technically no. It would be a coincidence.

  3. hip2bdaniel - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    this is not a story.

  4. bigharold - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    “…so it could be $39 million if Papelbon stays healthy and productive.”

    Of course if he was healthy AND productive nobody would be talking about trading him.

    • ryanrockzzz - Dec 23, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      As the article did state though, Paps has been productive and healthy over a two year span for the Phillies. That fastball velocity kills his value.

  5. Reflex - Dec 20, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Suddenly wondering if they were talking to the Phils before the Balfour decision. What if the deal fell apart because the Orioles suddenly realized they could have Papelbon and had to quickly come up with an excuse to get out of the deal they had with Balfour…

  6. mmeyer3387 - Dec 20, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    Jonathan Papelbon has seen better days. Judging last year’s performance, he is an average closer that’s way over paid. Clearly, he is not the player that he was 5 or 6 years ago.

    • mikhelb - Dec 21, 2013 at 3:03 AM

      The vast majority of closers are overpaid, and even the majority of MLB regular players are overpaid.

      • 18thstreet - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:49 AM

        The owners are overpaid. The players are underpaid.

  7. pisano - Dec 21, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    The O’s better think long and hard on this move. This guy is not what he was, and not real popular in the clubhouse. I guess a lot will depend on how much contract the Phillies will eat.

    • 18thstreet - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      Do we know that he’s not well-liked among his teammates? (Honest question, not rhetorical.) I mean, he really seems like a jerk and always has. But John Lackey seems like a huge jerk and his teammates apparently love the guy.

      • mox19380 - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:38 AM

        yeah i’ve haven’t heard much that his teammates don’t like him. but he’s not a fan favorite by a long stretch which in philly means you are a pariah

  8. kraa0901 - Dec 21, 2013 at 2:30 AM

    When will teams realize, a closer is quite subjective? A closer, in my opinion, is the most overrated position in all of sports.

  9. kraa0901 - Dec 21, 2013 at 2:31 AM

    When will teams realize, a closer, is quite subjective? A closer, in my opinion, is the most overrated position in all of sports.

  10. dowhatifeellike - Dec 21, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Dumping Johnson over a few million dollars is looking dumber by the day. Instead of paying the $10M in arbitration, the Orioles should have offered 3/$24M and been done with it.

  11. twpguy1964 - Dec 22, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    Make it a package deal and send the worst GM in MLB with him!

  12. twpguy1964 - Dec 22, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    I’ve “Discussed” a threesome with my wife, Doesn’t mean it’s happening!

  13. yougottalovethepain - Dec 22, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    Papelbon and Domonic Brown for a couple mid-level prospects and no salary relief. Brown takes over LF from the recently departed Nate McClouth. Philly takes the money they save and sign Nelson Cruz to add some right handed pop to their lineup. The Phillies closer job would go to Bastardo, Diekman and/or Martin. This could work for both teams. Read more at

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