As of Friday, it appeared the Brewers were interested in and were aggressively pursuing Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, as was first reported by Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan. But according to Tom Haudricourt of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, while there is a chance a deal can still be completed, Papelbon to Milwaukee is "on life support."
Papelbon, 34, posted a 2.04 ERA and 2.53 FIP in 66.1 innings pitched with the Phillies in 2014. While the club appears to be in rebuilding mode, Philadelphia has been actively trying to trade Papelbon this offseason. However the veteran reliever is reportedly not drawing a notable amount of interest. He saved 39 contests in last season, ten more than he closed in 2013.
Passan confirmed the two sides engaged in a conversation with regard to Papelbon, although Papelbon's salary moving forward could have been the reason a deal was not completed immediately. He will earn $13 million in 2015, and since the Brewers are listed on his no-trade clause, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman and FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Papelbon would receive an extra $13 million for accepting a trade to Milwaukee. Heyman also notes that while Papelbon has said he would like to play for a competitive team, Papelbon's desire to have the 2016 vesting option picked up early makes him hard piece to move.
Philadelphia is prepared to move on without Papelbon because of the internal expectation that top closing prospect Ken Giles will be ready to pitch at the major league level in 2015. CSN Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury reported the Phillies are still looking to move Papelbon in order to create payroll flexibility moving forward.
The expectation is that the Phillies would be willing to include a significant amount of cash in a deal that involved Papelbon, however the Phillies and Brewers were not able to agree on the amount involved.
While the Phillies are confident Giles will be closing in 2015, Milwaukee may look to add free agent Francisco Rodriguez, who had a solid first half with the Brewers. Haudricourt notes that adding a late-inning reliever with closing experience is the club's goal, with Rafael Soriano and Carl Janssen also among possible alternatives.