Jonathan Papelbon Rumors

Trade Market Notes: Papelbon, Indians, Cotts, Maybin

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon said today that he would be surprised and disappointed if he is not traded this summer, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. The veteran righty indicated that he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause to play for any contender — provided, that is, that he’d work in a closing capacity. “I think [the front office] knows where I’m at,” he said. “I’ve always been straightforward that I want to go play for a contender and I’m not going to shy away from it. I feel like that’s my right and my prerogative to have that opportunity and, you know, it’s in their hands. The ball’s in their court. I guess that’s kind of it.” While Papelbon’s preferences will play a significant role in his market, he’s done nothing but increase his trade value through his on-field performance this year. Entering today’s action, the 34-year-old owns a 1.65 ERA with 9.4 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9 — and a career-best 50.6% groundball rate — on the season.

  • The Indians are still alive for a post-season berth even though the club has underperformed expectations, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the club will probably stand pat for the most part at the trade deadline. Cleveland is not terribly interested in dealing away Carlos Santana, but could consider moving David Murphy or Ryan Raburn, both of whom have been quite productive this year and can be controlled through fairly reasonable 2016 options. In the event that the Indians decide to add pieces, says Rosenthal, the club could target a pen arm or a bat (at an unidentified position — the left side of the infield seeming most likely).
  • The Twins and Brewers have had some preliminary trade chats, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports (Twitter links). It is not clear precisely what players were under discussion, though Berardino indicates that Milwaukee lefty Neal Cotts could hold some appeal to Minnesota.
  • Some opposing clubs believe the Braves could be interested in selling high on outfielder Cameron Maybin this summer, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. Olney had previously indicated on Twitter that Atlanta was not interested in parting with Maybin, who’s been quite a pleasant surprise since coming over as part of the salary swaps in the Craig Kimbrel deal. But he could have significant appeal to teams in need of an outfielder, particularly if the market ends up being largely devoid of bats.

Cafardo On Sale, Ramirez, Uehara, Papelbon

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests ten steps to help fix the Red Sox.  The first item on the list is one that has been discussed quite a bit – Boston’s need for a true ace in the rotation.  Beyond that, Cafardo would like to see the Sox trade Clay Buchholz, focus on acquiring players who can thrive in their environment, and hire an executive to oversee and question the moves of GM Ben Cherington.   Here’s a look at some of the highlights from Cafardo’s Sunday offering..

  • White Sox left-hander Chris Sale is on a strikeout tear and teams would surely like to add him this summer.  However, team sources tell Cafardo that Sale is not available.  Even though the White Sox are in last place, they see him as the cornerstone of their franchise.  Sale, 26, has a 2.74 ERA with 12.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 through 13 starts this season.
  • There have been conflicting reports on the subject, but Cafardo hears that the Mets have made inquiries on Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez.  Ramirez, who turns 37 this week, has hit just .220/.256/.405 in 211 plate appearances this season.  However, some feel that a move to a contending club could get him back on track.  Cafardo also writes that it wouldn’t be surprising if the Giants or Padres got in the mix on the veteran.
  • Teams are watching Red Sox closer Koji Uehara and monitoring him to make sure that he’s free of serious injury concerns.  At the same time, his $9MM salary for next season is a deterrent for rival teams.   “There’s always going to be a holding of your breath to commit to him, but he’s still very good. Boston would have to pick up some of the salary. But I think teams will definitely inquire and make a push for him,” one AL evaluator told Cafardo.
  • Jonathan Papelbon would seem to be a great fit for the the Blue Jays, but money continues to be an issue for Toronto.  The Phillies could probably assume a lot of Papelbon’s deal for this year and some of the $13MM vesting option for 2016, but the sense is that Toronto wants to go even cheaper.  Also, they don’t want to give up youngster Daniel Norris to find their late-inning solution.

Many Clubs Scouting Jonathan Papelbon

There was a “heavy” scouting presence in attendance for Jonathan Papelbon‘s most recent appearance, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Both the Blue Jays and Cubs are known to have interest in the closer, but Rosenthal now adds that additional clubs have inquired on the reliever.

Meanwhile, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes that the Jays have had a high-ranking scout trail Papelbon for his past 10 contests. He’s only had one save opportunity in that time, though he has pitched in non-save situations. Per Salisbury, determining how much money would need to head to the Blue Jays has been a “significant” hurdle in talks thus far.

Papelbon has pitched well all season and has continued to put up rather excellent results since experiencing a significant velocity drop beginning in 2013. Rosenthal notes that he averaged 94.1 mph in his most recent outing, but he only threw nine pitches, so it’s not necessarily an indicator that his velocity has returned for good. Indeed, a look at Papelbon’s game-to-game velocity charts (via Fangraphs) reveals that the most recent appearance is something of an outlier.

PITCHf/x data shows that Papelbon has upped the usage of his slider in 2015, which may explain the increase in both his swinging-strike rate and his K/9 rate. At 34 years old, it’s unlikely that Papelbon will see a dramatic resurgence in the velocity department, but he’s still managed to post a pristine 1.01 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a career-best 51.5 percent ground-ball rate in 26 1/3 innings this year.

The remaining $7.67MM on his contract is an obstacle, to be sure, as is the $13MM option for 2016 that seems likely to vest. But, at roughly $20.5MM over the coming nine-and-a-half months of regular season games (to say nothing of potential postseason innings), Papelbon’s really not the overpriced asset that he’s often portrayed to be. Depending on the extent to which the Phillies are willing to subsidize an acquiring team, Papelbon could ultimately be looked upon as a below-market asset relative to his production.



Heyman’s Latest: Phillies, C. Johnson, Sellers, Harang, Rays

In his weekly Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by taking a look at a messy situation in Philadelphia. Heyman hears the same rumblings that were first reported by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury — that Andy MacPhail could very well be in line for an executive role with the Phillies. The hiring of MacPhail would bring into question the status of both GM Ruben Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg. While one exec notes that no one could have had much success with the hand Sandberg has been dealt, his calm demeanor hasn’t motivated the team much, and he may have lost the clubhouse at this point. Heyman notes that partial owner John Middleton, who is believed by some to be calling the shots in Philly, may have extra impetus to get a new decision-maker in the door so that a lame-duck GM (Amaro’s contract expires at season’s end) isn’t the primary decision-maker on what could be a franchise-altering Cole Hamels trade. Speaking of Hamels, Heyman notes that interested teams will want to see him pitch at least twice now that he had a start pushed back due to a hamstring strain, thinning the window of opportunity to trade him. As far as Jonathan Papelbon goes, the belief is that he’d approve any trade that sent him to a contending team, though the Cubs might be his preferred fit at this point if he had a say in the matter.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest (though there’s more in the column than we can cover here)…

  • The Braves have tried to trade Chris Johnson and even offered to substantially pay down the remaining money on his contract, but there’s been little interest. The Johnson deal was widely questioned from the start, and there’s still about $21MM owed to Johnson through the end of the 2017 season. Johnson’s a viable weapon against lefties, but he’s a sub-par hitter against right-handed pitchers and is not well-regarded from a defensive standpoint.
  • Rival teams are beginning to wonder if the Red Sox might sell some pieces this summer, with Mike Napoli, Clay Buchholz and Koji Uehara among the possible names listed by Heyman. Napoli isn’t hitting for average but has shown good power and a nice walk rate. Buchholz has improved after a rocky start and Uehara again has strong numbers in the ‘pen.
  • The White Sox are beginning to think about selling, Heyman hears, but they’re not quite ready to move their bigger pieces. Emilio Bonifacio might be the first name they make available, but eventually, Jeff Samardzija‘s name could be out there. Heyman writes that while Samardzija isn’t pitching well in 2015, his big arm is so tantalizing to scouts that there will still be interest in him.
  • The Reds aren’t expected to sell until after the All-Star Game and would be very open to shedding Brandon Phillips‘ contract, per Heyman, though I have a difficult time envisioning too many teams lining up to take on the remainder of that deal. Phillips is owed about $34.1MM through the end of the 2017 season and has seen his power more or less vanish. Heyman speculates that Everth Cabrera could be a fit in Cincinnati with Zack Cozart out for the year, and there’s some logic to that scenario, though they may first prefer to see what they have in Eugenio Suarez. The Mets aren’t interested in Cabrera, he adds later.
  • The Marlins aren’t selling yet, according to GM-turned-manager Dan Jennings. “We’re in it, we’re not jumping off the ship. No doubt about that,” Jennings told Heyman. If their attitude changes, Heyman thinks they’ll find interest in Martin Prado and Mike Dunn.
  • The Astros like Aaron Harang but are said to be aiming higher when looking at potential trade targets to bolster their rotation.
  • The Dodgers are on the hunt for a top-tier starting pitcher and a late-inning arm to help bridge the gap to Kenley Jansen. In other Dodgers-related news, Heyman hears that No. 35 pick Kyle Funkhouser is strongly considering returning to Louisville. Funkhouser was once looked at as a potential Top 10 pick, but he fell to a slot with a $1.756MM value. He’d have less leverage in 2016 as a senior sign, of course, but he could certainly improve his draft stock and his bonus with a big senior year.
  • Yankees chief international officer/executive vice president Felix Lopez is no longer listed on the team’s web site and some indicate that he’s been gone from the organization for three months, Heyman writes. Lopez was said to have angered Yoan Moncada‘s camp after calling to express displeasure with their decision to sign in Boston over New York. The team hasn’t made a statement on his departure.
  • The Rays are looking for first base help with James Loney on the disabled list, but Loney’s said to be returning around the All-Star break. Heyman speculates on the possibility of Ryan Howard ending up in Tampa Bay if the Phillies eat some or all of the contract, but I’d think there’d be something of a logjam there once Loney is activated in that scenario.

Trade Market Notes: Top Targets, Papelbon, Jays, Mets, Cueto

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com ranks the top forty trade candidates around the league, adding observations and notes on each. Though he notes that clubs like the Red Sox and Orioles could potentially end up moving assets, Heyman restricts things to clubs that seem more likely than not to sell at this point. Cole Hamels of the Phillies lands in the pole position; though some top suitors remain unwilling to part with the top players targeted by Philadelphia, one GM tells Heyman that the club will probably be able to land a premium prospect for the lefty. He also argues that a deal involving Dodgers outfielder and Angels starter C.J. Wilson looks good on paper, though the teams have not discussed such an arrangement. You’ll need to read the whole post to take it all in, of course.

  • The Blue Jays and Phillies have not discussed Jonathan Papelbon in the last week, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links), adding that Toronto is looking at other arms at the moment. One name to watch, says Sherman, is Tyler Clippard of the Athletics, who Toronto had in-depth discussions about over the winter.
  • It’s academic at this point, but Clippard also drew significant interest from the Astros over the offseason, Sherman further tweets. Indeed, Houston was “very close” to acquiring the veteran reliever, says Sherman, which raises the interesting question of what the Nationals would have received in return. Ultimately, the club took infielder Yunel Escobar in return, though that deal did not occur until a month after the Astros had already spent big on free agent bullpen arms, which could indicate that the prospective Clippard acquisition might have been contemplated earlier in the winter.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson indicated that the club will not rely on a return from David Wright in making its summer moves, David Lennon of Newsday writes. Alderson said the club would not continue providing regular updates on Wright’s status, and said he would not be restricted in making moves. “Would we consider a third baseman who can’t do anything else?” Alderson queried. “Under the circumstances, yeah, we probably would. But we’re not just looking for any third baseman. It has to be something we think is an improvement that doesn’t cost us significantly.” The veteran GM continued to throw cold water on the idea of a move in the near-term, noting that the market was “narrow” and generally features underperforming players at this stage.
  • C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer discusses the Reds‘ current predicament, with Zack Cozart out for the season, Devin Mesoraco likely to join him in that regard, and Marlon Byrd sidelined for a significant stretch. Cincinnati should not allow its hosting of the All-Star game to slow its efforts to deal Johnny Cueto, opines Rosecrans, who suggests that the team could reap a larger reward by moving him now (both by selling more starts and, perhaps, by getting ahead of the market). Dealing Cueto, of course, would also increase the appeal of shipping out Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman. Rosecrans concludes: “At this point, the organization doesn’t need to think about the All-Star Game, or even 2016. This is a long-term move and needs long-term thinking.”
  • Though he’s a rental, Cueto is a true ace and should bring back a healthy return — even if it won’t be near what the Reds might have achieved last year (as Rosecrans explains). There should be no shortage of suitors, but MLB.com’s Phil Rogers lists the five most plausible landing spots: the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Dodgers, Rangers, and Padres.

Trade Notes: Sellers, Dodgers, Papelbon, Jays, Twins

Dave Cameron of Fangraphs opines that we may be headed for the “most extreme sellers’ market in years” given the unprecedented parity in the American League and a lack of sellers in the National League. Only 8.5 games separate the best team in the AL and the second-worst, Cameron notes, and the worst club (the Athletics) can be reasonably expected to turn things around if one believes in the estimation of a context-neutral system like BaseRuns (of course, Oakland’s hole may be too deep to escape even if their luck turns). In the NL, only the Phillies and Brewers are clear sellers, and even potential sellers like the Diamondbacks and Marlins are loaded with young, controllable players as opposed to appealing veteran assets. The Reds and Rockies may eventually sell also, but they’re close enough to .500 at this time that they may wait until late in trade season to market their players. Cameron adds that if the Rox “really won’t trade Tulowitzki in this market, where there might not be another significant power hitter available, then they should just never trade him.” I’m inclined to agree that it’s difficult to imagine a better market for Colorado to move Tulowitzki, particularly if he continues a torrid hot streak that is silencing any previous concerns about his health.

A few more trade-related notes as we begin to get the time of year when teams will shift their focus to improving the 25-man roster…

  • It’s no secret that the Dodgers could use a quality starter, and Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes that the club is looking at the very top of the market. The top Dodgers target is Nationals righty Jordan Zimmermann. Other preferred names include Johnny Cueto of the Reds and David Price of the Tigers. Of course, it’s far from clear what kind of deal would interest contenders like Washington and Detroit, and Saxon notes that Los Angeles has no reason to believe at this point that Zimmermann could be had via trade. While Cueto is obviously expected to be available, it’s hard to imagine the other two arms being dealt barring some significant change (e.g., loss of a major player to injury or a rather dramatic slide in the standings) or serious creativity in structuring a deal.
  • Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has seen his name in the news today, and ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark adds to the reports indicating that Philadelphia is increasingly interested in moving the veteran. Rivals think that the Phils may be looking to deal Papelbon sooner rather than later in order to get out ahead of other clubs that might sell off late-inning arms — namely, the Athletics (Tyler Clippard) and Reds (Aroldis Chapman).
  • It remains to be seen what kind of return the Phillies can achieve on Papelbon, but the club’s apparent willingness to keep some of the salary obligations will obviously help on the prospect side of the equation. Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com attempts to gauge Papelbon’s value by looking at recent deals involving late-inning arms, indicating that the club might be interested in bolstering its organization depth with multiple prospects if it can’t pry loose a single player that it really likes.
  • The Blue Jays undeniably have a need at the back of the pen, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, but the club does not seem any closer to reaching agreement on Papelbon. While the teams have indeed chatted recently, Davidi says that Philly is still not willing to take on enough of Papelbon’s salary to make an agreement palatable. And Toronto is not looking to part with its better minor league talent, perhaps buoyed by the fact that there is not a ton of demand for Papelbon. The Jays are definitely constrained by financial limitations, says Davidi, who sums it up thusly: “in all likelihood they have one, maybe two moves in them, so they can ill-afford a costly roll of the dice.”
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan says that the failure of last year’s mid-season Kendrys Morales  signing will not cause the team to pause in pursuing an upgrade this summer, as Derek Wetmore of 1500ESPN.com writes. “I would do it again if I had an opportunity,” Ryan said of the Morales move. “It just didn’t work.” He went on to say that the club is looking to see what it can do to take advantage of its nice start: “We’re doing pretty good and we certainly have to have our eyes open,” Ryan said. “We’re in contention, there’s no secret here. We have an opportunity to do some things and hopefully we’ll be able to.”

Phillies Have Had Recent Papelbon Talks With Blue Jays, Cubs

8:58pm: The Blue Jays had a scout in Cincinnati to watch the Phillies’ series against the Reds, writes CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. According to Salisbury, that scout may have also been checking out right-hander Aaron Harang and lefty Cole Hamels. (Salisbury adds that Hamels will not approve a trade to Toronto, however, as has been previously reported.) Salisbury adds that multiple sources have told him that the Blue Jays and Phillies have indeed been discussing Papelbon quite recently.

5:57pm: The Phillies “are ready” to trade Jonathan Papelbon and have had recent discussions with the Cubs and Blue Jays regarding the five-time All-Star, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, there’s currently nothing close, and talks between the Phillies and both of those teams are at an impasse, per Rosenthal.

The Phillies are willing to pay a significant portion of Papelbon’s contract if it means receiving better prospects, and since speaking with the Blue Jays last week, they’ve increased their scouting of Toronto’s minor league affiliates. The Blue Jays are on Papelbon’s no-trade list, though Papelbon said months ago that he would have interest in pitching for Toronto. The Jays are currently one game above .500 and just three games back in the AL East, despite the fact that they’ve endured bullpen struggles nearly all season.

As for the Cubs, their front office knows Papelbon well. Both president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer worked for the Red Sox when Papelbon was drafted, and each has a respect for his work ethic despite his somewhat abrasive personality. The Cubs aren’t committed to Hector Rondon as the team’s closer and are trying to add multiple late-inning alternatives, hence their recent signing of Rafael Soriano.

Rosenthal hears that the Phillies prefer to deal with the Blue Jays as opposed to the Cubs. I’d imagine that moving Papelbon to Toronto could require the Phils to eat more cash, as Toronto has more budgetary constraints. They’re said to have between $5MM and $8MM to make in-season additions, though Papelbon is earning $13MM this season, of which $8.3MM remains. It seems unlikely that the Blue Jays would want to place all their eggs in this one basket by spending all of the money they have left on Papelbon’s salary. Additionally, Papelbon’s $13MM vesting option has to be a consideration, as if he were inserted into the ninth inning in Toronto, he’d almost certainly reach the 48 games finished needed to lock in that final year.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Papelbon, Marlins, Padres, Angels, Twins

The Marlins showed interest in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon right around when they fired Mike Redmond, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. However, it’s unclear if the club will buy after a slow start to the season. Prior to the season they promised Giancarlo Stanton that they will aim to compete, but there may come a point where it makes more sense to trade some of the higher priced mercenaries. Players like Mike Morse, Dan Haren, and Mike Dunn could find themselves on the trade block. Here’s more from Rosenthal.

  • The Padres are scouting the Brewers for a shortstop. They may lack the prospects to acquire Jean Segura, but San Diego GM A.J. Preller is familiar with Luis Sardinas from his days in the Rangers system. The Brewers are also taking calls on right-hander Mike Fiers, but they’re not interested in trading him.
  • The Angels have plenty of starting pitching depth to acquire offensive firepower. They could call upon Andrew Heaney if they trade a major leaguer pitcher. Alternatively, Heaney or Nick Tropeano could be offered in a swap. The Halos also have Tyler Skaggs and Sean Newcomb as long term options. Skaggs is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Newcomb is working his way through the system (currently in High-A) after being selected 15th overall last June.
  • The Twins aren’t yet buyers, but they’ll receive reinforcements when Ervin Santana and Casey Fien return to action. Santana is eligible to return from his PED suspension on July 4. Fien is currently on the disabled list. The club has received poor production from center field and designated hitter. They could stick with Aaron Hicks in center with Kennys Vargas as the primary designated hitter, but the addition of a “big bopper” would improve the overall outlook. My own speculation: I wonder if a combination of Ben Revere and Ryan Howard would make sense – assuming the Phillies ate enough cash.

Quick Hits: Mock Draft, Upton, Papelbon, Verlander, Rondon

Early mock drafts continue to roll out, with MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis releasing their first effort at spitballing the always hard-to-call results. The MLB.com team pegs high school outfielder Daz Cameron — son of longtime big leaguer Mike Cameron — as the likeliest current optiton for the Rangers at fourth overall.

Here are a few more notes from around the game:

  • The Padres expect outfielder Melvin Upton to begin a rehab stint in the near future given the improvement in his foot injury, MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes in response to a reader question. San Diego probably will not have any decisions to make until the start of June, says Brock, which is probably the earliest he’ll be ready to come off of the DL. What happens at that point remains to be seen, of course, but Brock notes that the club could theoretically give Wil Myers more time at first base to afford Upton a useful place on the roster — and a chance to attempt to return to form. In truth, Upton represents a free roll for the Friars, who took on his salary only to facilitate the addition of Craig Kimbrel. But the team has every incentive to see if it can get him back on track.
  • The market for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has evolved significantly over time, of course, and figures to continue to do so as the summer draws near. Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com argues that the Marlins currently make the most sense as a trade partner for Papelbon, whose contract appears more and more manageable over time — particularly as he continues to produce on the field. We just saw reports that the Fish are indeed exploring external options to bolster their pen, of course, and Papelbon remains an intriguing option. While I agree with Seidman that the division rivals would probably not hesitate to deal with one another, I wonder whether Miami would have the appetite for Papelbon’s still-hefty salary (he’s owed $13MM this year and $13MM next if his option vests).
  • The Tigers watched bullpens from two important right-handers today, as Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press report (Twitter links). Starter Justin Verlander threw twenty pitches and left pitching coach Jeff Jones “very pleased,” while reliever Bruce Rondon also took a turn on the bump. Detroit ranks toward the upper-middle of the pack in terms of run prevention thus far in 2015, but the club has relied more than it might prefer on the largely untested Kyle Lobstein in the rotation and could certainly use a quality set-up man at the back of the pen. The progress of Verlander and Rondon, then, is likely to have a significant impact on the team’s summer plans.

Cafardo On Hamels, Rays, Red Sox

The Phillies are “waiting with open arms” to find the right trade for at least one of their big-name veteran players, a major league official tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  That list of big names, of course, includes ace Cole Hamels, though Jonathan Papelbon and Chase Utley could also be moved, Cafardo writes.  Amaro recently told reporters that he’s willing to eat part of Hamels’ contract in a trade if necessary, and that could help bring about a deal for the Phillies.  More from today’s column..

  • Major league sources tell Cafardo that the tampering investigation brought by Rays owner Stuart Sternberg against the Cubs for their hiring of Joe Maddon was reopened when Sternberg objected to the original verdict.  In the end, however, it was found that there was no tampering in the negotiations.
  • Marlins GM Dan Jennings thought he had trade possibilities for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was designated for assignment last week. He’s currently in the 10-day limbo period in which he could be traded, claimed, or put on waivers.
  • Scouts are still waiting for Red Sox outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig to bust out and it appears Boston is going to play him more to boost his trade value.  Cafardo notes that Craig has historically hit well in the month of May.
  • The Red Sox are trying to create roster versatility by using players at different positions. Shortstop Deven Marrero is the team’s latest experiment after seeing time at second base. One NL scout isn’t so wild about the concept. “He’s a terrific athlete so he’ll do well at the other positions, but this is the type of guy where you know he’s a terrific shortstop so why mess around with that?” said the scout. “He’s got high confidence as a shortstop and now you’re reducing that confidence level by making him play positions he’s not used to.