Baseball Insider

Papelbon, Phillies appear to be stuck with each other

Jonathan Papelbon is not happy with losing in Philly, but that's likely not enough to get dealt. (USATSI)
Jonathan Papelbon is not happy with losing in Philly, but that's likely not enough to get dealt. (USATSI)

Phillies star closer Jonathan Papelbon expressed his dissatisfaction with what's going on with the Phillies. But here's some news for him: He's almost surely stuck there.

"I can't imagine anyone taking that contract of his and giving Philadelphia pieces back," one rival executive said, basically echoing the sentiments of several who were asked about Papelbon.

Papelbon is having a decent statistical year, with a 2-0 record, 2.21 ERA and 20 saves in 25 chances. But his $13 million salary and inability to fit quietly into a clubhouse makes him nothing more than a giveaway as a trade piece, according to competing execs. (Though if he keeps talking, maybe the Phillies would consider the giveaway route.)

People around the league suggest his name isn't being heard in trade talks. And that shouldn't be surprising.

They are in freefall, but no one is anxious to take Papelbon. Not now.

The Tigers added Jose Veras in a low-risk, low-cost trade Monday morning. And there is zero evidence the Red Sox would even think about taking Papelbon back -- as much as he wants to praise the Red Sox now.

Boston is very pleased by the emergence of Koji Uehara as viable closer lately. The Red Sox may be the club to want Papelbon, anyway. They once lived with Papelbon, and while he helped them win a World Series, that doesn't mean they want to re-live those days with him.

Even if Philly could find a big-market team desperate for a closer, two executives asked about Papelbon said it isn't only the contract that makes him less desirable but his reputation as someone who doesn't fit easily into clubhouses. Some outside the organization say they've heard he's an especially bad fit in their clubhouse of serious, quiet veteran professionals.

Papelbon certainly didn't enhance his marketability when he told MLB.com, "I definitely didn't come here for this," regarding the Phillies' recent downturn.

He went on to hint that the Phillies should follow the Red Sox blueprint, suggesting the Phillies make changes "from top to bottom."

If this was an attempt to get back to Boston, it apparently is not going to work. As for word Papelbon isn't getting along all that great in the Phillies clubhouse, one Red Sox person said, "They can't be surprised."

Papelbon, perhaps not realizing he isn't exactly beloved by everyone with his old team, went on to cite his old Red Sox organization as an example of how things should be done in the interview. That, of course, can't sit well with the Phillies who invested $52 million on a four-year deal with him. One thing Papelbon seems to forget, conveniently, is that the Red Sox didn't want him back.

Now we are starting to understand why.

"I would like to stay here," Papelbon also told MLB.com. "But if I'm going to put up with this year after year, then no, I don't want to be here. Why would you? Why would anybody?"

Well, there's at least a bit of good news for Papelbon if he truly wants to stay. He and the Phillies appear stuck with each other -- unless perhaps they are willing to give him away for nothing.

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