The Phillies have engaged in recent trade talks with the Blue Jays and Cubs about closer Jonathan Papelbon, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Rosenthal reports that the Phillies are ready to trade Papelbon, but that talks are currently "at an impasse" with Toronto and Chicago.
Papelbon is one of many Phillies' veterans who will be available this summer, along with Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Aaron Harang, Ben Revere, and others. Trade rumors surrounding Papelbon date back a few years due to his consistency and unhappiness with the losing situation in Philadelphia, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has not yet found the right fit in trade talks.
According to Rosenthal, the Phillies are willing to eat a significant portion of Papelbon's salary to facilitate a deal in which they would receive good prospects, and have been increasing their scouting of Toronto's minor-league system. The Jays were, along with the Marlins, linked to Papelbon earlier in the season when both teams' bullpens were struggling.
The Cubs are a new entrant into the Papelbon race, but team president Theo Epstein's familiarity with the closer from their days together in Boston may play a large role as trade talks heat up. The Cubs are on the lookout for bullpen help on the trade market even after signing Rafael Soriano, and are looking to add a few strong options for the back-end of their bullpen despite already having Soriano, Jason Motte and Hector Rondon in the mix. The team has also been linked to D-Backs reliever Oliver Perez, meaning they are likely interested in adding left-handed depth as well.
Papelbon, 34, has been excellent this season, posting a 1.13 ERA while saving twelve games in 24 appearances. He has previously stated his desire to play for a contender, stating that Toronto would be of interest to him.