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Would the Dodgers make a run at Jonathan Papelbon as a (really expensive) setup man?

Jul 17, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT

Jonathan Papelbon AP AP

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has made it very clear that he’d waive his veto rights and welcome a trade to a contender, and Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles talked to “a baseball source” who expects the Dodgers to make a run for the 33-year-old right-hander.

Stockpiling current and former closers is something the Dodgers have done a lot of lately with Brian Wilson, Brandon League, Chris Perez, and Carlos Marmol joining Kenley Jansen in the bullpen at various points since last season.

In this case Papelbon remains a very effective closer for the Phillies, saving 22 games with a 1.21 ERA and 33/9 K/BB ratio in 37 innings. His velocity and strikeout rate are both way down compared to his peak, but Papelbon pitching the eighth inning in front of Jansen would still be plenty scary for opponents.

Plus, if there’s one team that might not care about the $13 million he’s owed for next season it’s probably the Dodgers. After all, they already committed big money to Wilson to fill that same role and instead he’s been injured and ineffective. It’s also worth noting that if the Dodgers acquired Papelbon and shifted him to a setup role the odds of his $13 million option for 2016 vesting based on games finished totals would be very low.

  1. kingscourt25 - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Ethier for Papelbon

    • biasedhomer - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      I’m sure the Phillies would rather give Papelbon for nothing than take on an ever worse contract

    • seniorboy - Jul 19, 2014 at 8:08 PM

      Mattingly should be the first one to go. Fails to motivate, once again the team gets behind and gives up, Kemp and Ramirez strike out against Neschek who throws a blistering 83 mph fastball – pathetic. This tem is full of underachievers – Kemp and Ethier can go, Crawford can go, Brian Wilson is useless and unpredictable, like clean em out and get some guys and a manager who have some fight. Pathetic bunch of never come fro behind losers. Their pitchers must pitch with a one run cushion at all times.
      Joe Kelley has never been struck by a Dodger pitcher for purposefully hitting Ramirez in the NLCS last year and today he hits Puig, so whats up with gutless Mattingly, no retaliation. I mean hit this guy Kelly in the ribs with a 98 mph fastball and teach that DOB a lesson he will never forget.

  2. toodrunktotastethischicken - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    Papelbon + $3M for Zach Lee?

    • yahmule - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      That would make me sad.

      • toodrunktotastethischicken - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:34 PM

        More realistically, what about Pap for Fife and a A-Ball prospect?

  3. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    I can’t imagine that Papelbon would be happy with a setup role heading into free agency, or that he would be quiet about it.

    • xmatt0926x - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      You can either set up on a World Series contender or close here and there for a 95 loss team. Oh yeah, he’ll like the Dodgers just fine.

  4. cnat817 - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Why would the Phillies have any interest in Ethier? An older player on the downside of his career with a lot of $$$ still to come.

    • chip56 - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      You just described half the guys Ruben Amaro signs in any given winter.

      • liamj55 - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        Slight defense of Ruin. Marlon Byrd worked out nice.

      • chip56 - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        He has – I’m reminded of a story about a blind squirrel finding a nut from time to time that seems appropriate.

      • rayderray - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:30 PM


  5. geejon - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    If not Papelbon its a must L.A. acquires another 8th inning guy it can count on. Wilson and Perez have done nothing but throw gasoline on fires all year. It’s a miracle they still have the record they do considering how many games those guys have blown. They’ll go nowhere in the playoffs (assuming they make it) with those being the bridge to Jansen.

    • apkyletexas - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      What’s funny is that in the 90’s, the Yankees actually won a few World Series before they turned themselves into the most expensive chokers money can buy. These Dodgers decided to skip all that winning titles stuff.

      • geejon - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        Not sure what your point is unless you’re just a fan of some small market team who never win anything so they spend their time posting on Yankees and Dodgers boards.

        Don’t know where you get “chokers” from in referring to the Yankees. They won a bunch of W.S. and had an incredible run of success for the past 20 years. Eventually their best players aged and they didn’t do a good enough job in drafting to restock as they did when they had home grown Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Bernie Williams, Marian, etc.

        The Dodgers didn’t start spending like the Yankees until new ownership took over. In their first full year they got to 2 wins from the World Series and they’re presently in first place. I think their fans are quite happy.

        Have fun trolling somewhere else …

      • apkyletexas - Jul 17, 2014 at 5:51 PM

        “In their first full year they got to 2 wins from the World Series”

        …at which point they choked in historic fashion…

        As for the Yankees, please refer to their salaries and post-seasons from 2001 through 2008, before the Phils rolled over for them in the ’09 series.

  6. schmedley69 - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Papelbon for Brian Wilson’s beard.

    • nbjays - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      Brian Wilson’s beard is likely smarter.

      • schmedley69 - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        No arguments here.

  7. chip56 - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    While Pap isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer he’s also not a complete moron. If he accepts a deal to a team where he’s not going to close my guess is that he would require that team to convert his vesting option into either a player option or a guaranteed year.

    • Bob Loblaw - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      This. I mean, it’s basic common sense, and yet we get this from the author…

      ” It’s also worth noting that if the Dodgers acquired Papelbon and shifted him to a setup role the odds of his $13 million option for 2016 vesting based on games finished totals would be very low.”

      Actually, it’s NOT worth noting because Papelbon isn’t going to agree to a trade unless they convert the option to either a player option or a guaranteed year. I know that. Chip knows that. Yet the professional blogger can’t even take the time to write that into the piece.

      Lazy journalism has become rampant on HBT.

      • geejon - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        I seriously doubt even the Dodgers go for that. They stupidly agreed to give Wilson a 2015 player option for $9 million which he’ll obviously pick up seeing as how he’d get nothing close to that this offseason after the year he’s had. To trade for Papelbon and agree to make 2016 a guaranteed year would mean they’d have him making $13 mil next year and the following year, Wilson making $9 million and Brandon League making around $7 million (last year of his deal). That’s insane for 3 non-closers.

        More likely they go after someone else. Middle relievers (even good ones) are readily available every trading deadline and they don’t come with the price and headaches Papelbon does. Philly’s probably stuck with him for now.

      • chip56 - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:05 PM

        It’s the same thing with Chase Utley – before he flat out said that he wouldn’t waive his NTC the talking heads were saying that he’s a reasonable pick-up because his options likely wouldn’t vest (per Cots he has vesting options for 2016, 17 and 18 at $15 mil per season that kick in if he has 500 plate appearances the previous season). Well that’s all well and good, but my guess is that if he was going to waive his NTC then at least a couple of those option years would have to become guaranteed years or converted to player options.

        The NTC isn’t just about preventing a player from going to a team he doesn’t want to go to. They are a negotiating tool so that the player can have leverage if another team does want to trade for him.

      • drunkenhooliganism - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:17 PM

        Does Papelbon have to agree to the trade? Did Ruben really give him a no trade clause? I wouldn’t be surprised that Ruben overspent the rest of baseball by about 50% AND threw in a no trade, but did he?

      • jwbiii - Jul 17, 2014 at 8:02 PM

        Papelbon can block deals to 17 clubs. I don’t know which ones.

  8. irishlad19 - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Pap in La La Land–great fit!

    • moogro - Jul 17, 2014 at 9:08 PM

      Drunken cyborg.

  9. Eutaw's Finest - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    With a never ending supply of cash, it won’t surprise me to see them pick up both Papelbon AND Price.

    What would surprise me is seeing them unload Ethier successfully.

  10. offseasonblues - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    Memo to Dodgers: he may have changed since he left Boston, but as I remember, Papelbon runs only on high test. Take him out of the closer role at your peril.

  11. yahmule - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    The Dodgers are nonchalant enough about team chemistry to make this mistake. If they’re going to get someone this high profile, how about someone who’s less of a dick? Street, Uehara, Benoit?

  12. silversun60 - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    I’m a little disappointed that there are no comments about how he looks like he’s taking a massive dump in that picture. But then… I’m a 6 year old trapped in an adults body…

    • paperlions - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      I must be 12 yrs old then, it looks to me like he’s pantomiming a hand job.

      • yahmule - Jul 17, 2014 at 7:00 PM

        That picture could be photoshopped into the central figure in a Roman orgy with very little imagination.

  13. mcg1848 - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Ruben Amaro as a throw-in…

  14. bleedgreen - Jul 17, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    I mean, why wouldn’t you want 2 legit closers? You can’t send your closer out every single night. You can do Jansen 2 nights in a row, the Papelbon for 2, etc. Keep them BOTH well rested rather than wear them out if they really think they’re going deep into October.

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