Jonathan Papelbon is ready to be moved. The veteran closer has been the subject of numerous trade rumors over the last few weeks, and according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, Papelbon would be "surprised and disappointed" if he is not traded before the end of the month.
Papelbon, 34, is Philadelphia's lone All-Star and is having another solid season in the back of the bullpen. He has posted a 1.65 ERA and 2.71 FIP through 32.2 innings and has seen a slight decrease in his BB/9 (2.04 last season to 1.93 this year.) Papelbon has also saved 14 contests but has not had many opportunities given the Phillies' struggles.
While the Phillies are expected to trade Papelbon, they might have a hard time because of his contract. He is due $13 million at the end of this season and his $13 million vesting option for next season is automatically applied if he finishes 48 games this year. He has already reached 28, likely making 48 contests realistic. Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause, and while he wants to play for a contending club, he told Zolecki it would not get in the way of a potential deal.
Although his salary has been an issue in previous trade talks, the Phillies have made it clear they are willing to pay a significant portion of his contract in return for top prospects. Philadelphia is rebuilding and as a result will likely request at least a pair of top arms or position players in a deal involving Papelbon. Toronto is known to be seeing late inning relief help and some clubs could become interested and use their current closers as setup men in the eighth inning.
Andy MacPhail is not officially making deals for the Phillies yet, with Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro Jr. still involved with roster decisions. Regardless of who makes the deal, Papelbon will likely be dealt over the next few weeks.