Jonathan Papelbon Trade Won’t Come Easy for Phillies

Phillies RumorsThe Philadelphia Phillies have made no secret they are looking to trade closer Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon, 33, is coming off a 2013 season in which he pitched to a 2.92 ERA in 61 2/3 innings of work and is in the category for elite closers, which means he is in the category for elite salaries,at least for closers. Trading Papelbon might prove to be more difficult that it appears.

Papelbon is still owed a minimum of $26 million over the next two seasons, and that’s not counting a $13-million vesting option for 2016 after signing a 4 year $50 million deal in two years ago.

Joe Nathan just signed with the Detroit Tigers for two-years and $20 million. That leaves Grant BalfourJoaquin BenoitFernando RodneyChris PerezJose Veras and John Axford on a list of available closers on the market, tightening up even more the opportunities for a trade for the Phillies.

Papelbon also has no-trade protection that allows him to select 12 teas to which he will approve a deal. Unless Phillies GM is willing to eat a chunk of his salary, consummating a trade to move Paplebon is going to be a tough ticket, but move him he must. Reassigning Papelbon’s salary or at least part of it to a starter seems to be part of the plan.

“We’re trying to add pitching,” Amaro said. “There are a couple of other things we’d like to improve like our bench and the versatility of our outfield, but I think pitching has to be our priority.”

It seems likely that Amaro will add a starter and a couple of relievers before spring training, and those moves may be sooner than later.