Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has had difficulty drawing enough interest in order to trade current closer Jonathan Papelbon. He is under contract next season for $13 million plus a vesting option, most likely to be achieved, for the 2016 season. Papelbon’s velocity has decreased in proportion to his trade value.
The Phillies have a younger, harder throwing reliever in Ken Giles who receives less than $1 million this season. Giles might perform slightly worse than Papelbon if he wins the closer role, but the outperforming Giles makes Papelbon an overpriced closer. With more team control remaining on Papelbon’s contract, teams do not want to be locked into an aging closer’s deal.
The Phillies gave Papelbon his contract based on his previous performance in his career, similar to many other contracts on the current Phillies roster. They failed to recognize that younger closers are succeeding just as often as older closers.
In the top 10 of MLB in saves this season, only two closers (Fernando Rodney and Papelbon) are older than 32 years old. Joe Nathan has seen recent struggles with the Detroit Tigers after eight years of success closing games. Papelbon could pitch well into his late 30s, but the Phillies should move Giles into the closer role next season.
The Phillies need to find a suitor for Papelbon, but Amaro’s asking price is extremely high for an overpriced closer. He has said the Phillies are willing to eat some of his contract in order to trade him, but teams just do not want Papelbon. Amaro should trade Papelbon for any offer he receives because the closer does not want to be with the Phillies anymore.