The Philadelphia Phillies have pulled back from trading closer Jonathan Papelbon after discussing a move with several teams, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark:
Other clubs say they thought Phillies close to trading Papelbon last month, then pulled back. Heard they spoke to Jays, Cubs, Tex, LA & more— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 8, 2015
Feeling in the industry is that the decision to pull back on Papelbon came from above Ruben Amaro, from Pat Gillick, Andy MacPhail or both— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 8, 2015
Papelbon has had a strong season so far in Philadelphia, posting a 1.60 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with 35 strikeouts in 33⅔ innings. He has saved 14 of the Phillies' 29 wins this season.
If this did come from Andy MacPhail, it could be an indication of the direction he has planned for the Phillies, likely a more short-term rebuild if the plan is keeping Papelbon. It could also just mean that MacPhail and/or Pat Gillick was unhappy with the proposed return for Papelbon.
What does this mean for the trade market?
If Papelbon is indeed off the market, that means there is one less top-shelf reliever available for contenders looking to bolster their bullpen.
The good news for sellers is that the absence of Papelbon on the market means the value of relievers like Francisco Rodriguez, Tyler Clippard, John Axford and even Aroldis Chapman, should the Reds make him available.
Regardless of the reasoning for pulling back on a Papelbon trade, it indicates there will once again be the type of sellers' market on relievers that saw the Red Sox get Eduardo Rodriguez from Baltimore for a rental of Andrew Miller, because every contender is looking for relief help, especially after the Royals rode a string bullpen to a World Series appearance last season.