Now that the flames from the Orioles/Grant Balfour dumpster fire have begun to cool down, speculation has begun on which lucky pitcher will take the mound in the ninth inning in Baltimore. My money is on Fernando Rodney, but MASNSports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets that the O’s have talked with the Phillies about a possible trade for Jonathan Papelbon.
Phillies have talked to #orioles about Papelbon, but they'd have to eat a lot of that contract.
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) December 21, 2013
I hope they’re hungry. Papelbon will make $13 million in 2014 and 2015 and has a vesting option for another $13 million in 2016 if he finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 in 2014-2015. The Orioles were going to Balfour $15 million over two seasons, Philadelphia would have to eat the majority of that contract for a deal to work out between both sides.
Additionally, Pap comes with a laundry list of concerns, noted by HardballTalk.com’s resident Philly Phanatic, Bill Baer.
Since becoming a Phillie after the 2011 season, Papelbon has posted a 2.67 ERA and saved 67 games, striking out 149 and unintentionally walking 27 in 131.2 innings of work. However, there are warning signs that should concern any team looking to acquire the 33-year-old right-hander. According to FanGraphs, Papelbon’s fastball averaged 95 MPH in 2011, but dropped to 93.8 and 92.0 in the following two seasons. As a result, his strikeout rate declined from 34 percent in 2011 and 32 percent in 2012 to a mere 22 percent this past season.
I just can’t see a deal getting done here. Philly would have to pay most of Papelbon’s salary and would be looking for something in return. If the O’s got cold feet about Balfour’s deal, talks regarding Pap have probably gone no where.