Earlier this month, Jonathan Papelbon made it perfectly clear that, if the opportunity arose, he would have no issue with leaving the Philadelphia Phillies for a contending team. He even called Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins “crazy” for wanting to stay with the Phillies, a team that is seemingly going nowhere.
And as the trade deadline got closer, it was looking more and more like either the Los Angles Angels or the Detroit Tigers would be making a serious run at landing the right-handed closer, despite the enormous amount of money that might be involved. Papelbon has been playing well this year and a team would love nothing more than a closer with playoff experience on the mound during the postseason.
That was, until Tuesday night.
In what might have been two of the most important games of his career, Papelbon was the cause of the Phillies losing both games. On Tuesday, he blew a save in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants which caused the game to go to 14 innings and resulted in a Phillies loss. And then on Wednesday, Papelbon entered a scoreless ninth and proceeded to load the bases before giving up the winning run off a Hunter Pence double with two outs.
The result? Phillies fans booed, the Angles went out and signed Huston Street to fill their closer role, the the Tigers landed Joakim Soria on Wednesday and the Phillies are still stuck with Papelbon and his occasional bouts of “soreness”.
Like last season, the Phillies are still actively trying to move Papelbon, even saying they would pay a chunk of the $13 million he is owed this season and the $26 million he is scheduled to make over the next two. But now, it would seem all the offers have dried up. And after a performance like he has had this week, who can blame them? Even going out on Thursday and throwing a 10-pitch save to give the Phillies a 2-1 win over the Giants might not be enough to convince any team to take him on.
It would appear that, whether he likes it or not, the Phillies are going to be stuck with Papelbon for a while.