Two years ago the Philadelphia Phillies' free agent acquisition of Boston Red Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon caused many to scratch their digital screens. At the time it appeared as though no one was willing to offer nearly as much money as Philadelphia did to obtain the veteran right-hander. Now, the apparent dearth of wanting-takers seems to verify past speculation.
It's not as though Papelbon is washed up, or ineffective. At 33 and having only thrown 561 regular season innings through his nine-year career, 'Pap' should be useful for a few more seasons.
Yes, his 2013 fastball routinely flew approximately three miles per hour slower than what was registered during his first Phillies' season. But, his 1.135 WHIP and 29 saves were respectable for a squad that only won 73 games.
Charlie Manuel and Ryne Sandberg didn't have many viable, or consistent, middle-innings options last year. So, both dugout leaders had to put Papelbon into many tenuous game situations.
If reports about continued trade talk involving the Phillies' most reliable bullpen piece is accurate, it's likely that general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. is balancing projections about Papelbon's future effectiveness with payroll reallocation considerations.
The Phillies put themselves on the hook for so many big-money guaranteed contracts that they may need to move their closer in order to try and patch other roster holes. That realized gambit would create a question in the ninth inning, regardless of whoever would assume the stopper's spot.
At this point, one has to wonder if dealing Papelbon is the right risk to take?