With the Philadelphia Phillies officially in free-fall mode, the names that are added on to the trading block are just going to increase as the deadline looms closer. And one of the players the team really should consider listening to offers on is closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Prior to the start of the 2013 season, the Phillies offered Papelbon a massive contract to the tune of $50 million over four years with a vesting option for the fifth year, which would bring the total value of the contract to $63 million. It was the largest contract ever given to a reliever.
Given the parameters of the contract, the Phillies bringing in another top-of-the-line closer made a lot of sense. However, in devoting so much money to Papelbon, the team severely lacked the funds to fill some of the other needs, namely a power hitting outfielder.
But despite a very Papelbon-esque stretch where the closer seemed to come off the hinges a little bit, he has still proven to be worth the money. Maybe not $50 million, but overall, the Papelbon signing was not the worst GM Ruben Amaro made this offseason.
Papelbon has spent the entirety of 2013 as the best in a very, very incapable bullpen. As a result of that, his value to the Phillies was vital. But that was really only the case when the team was in contender mode, which after a season long eight-game losing streak, no longer is the case.
As a result, Papelbon instantly becomes the best tradable asset the Phillies have.
Yes, Chase Utley and Michael Young are both big names with big bats. But as of right now, Papelbon will be the best reliever and potentially only closer on the market at the trade deadline. And for contending teams, being able to add a surefire closer with 20 saves and a 2.21 ERA, is one of those moves that could put a club over the top.
The market for relievers is almost always sparse. So if the Phillies dangle Papelbon out there and are willing to eat a pretty decent chunk of his $50 million, it is all but guaranteed that some team will bite and will be willing to pay with top-level prospects in exchange for the closer’s premium services.