The Phillies are showing "serious" interest in Jonathan Papelbon, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. The Phillies appeared to have a deal with Ryan Madson earlier this week, but talks aren't going anywhere at the moment. Yesterday GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Stark that rumors of an agreement on a four-year, $44MM deal were "unequivocally false."
It has become "increasingly clear" that Papelbon's price might not be much higher than what Scott Boras is seeking for Madson, Stark writes. The team has been debating the merits of keeping Madson versus signing Papelbon for quite some time. Stark adds that the Blue Jays and Marlins have also shown strong interest in signing the long-time Red Sox closer. The Phillies have had "extensive negotiations" with Papelbon's agents and though the talks have slowed down at times, Philadelphia's interest hasn't waned.
Papelbon, 30, posted a 2.94 ERA with 12.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 64 1/3 innings for the Red Sox in 2011, saving 31 games. Like Madson, he's a Type A free agent who would cost a top pick in 2012. If the Phillies sign Papelbon and lose Madson to another team after offering him arbitration, they'd lose one pick and gain two.