WEDNESDAY: The Phillies are "selling the crap out of [Papelbon]," one executive told Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly. The Phillies are willing to pay some of Papelbon's salary to facilitate a trade, according to Salisbury. One source told Salisbury that the Phillies approached the Indians and offered to pay part of Papelbon's salary, but the Indians weren't interested.
SUNDAY: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also hears that the Phils are shopping Papelbon, adding that there's a belief that the Phils would like to reallocate Papelbon's salary to a starting pitcher (Twitter link).
FRIDAY, 6:45pm: The Red Sox are one of the teams on Papelbon's no-trade list, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports (Twitter link). With Koji Uehara closing and the likes of Junichi Tazawa and the newly-acquired Edward Mujica as bullpen depth, it's very unlikely the Sox would've had interest in bringing Papelbon back anyway.
2:47pm: The Phillies are trying to trade Jonathan Papelbon, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Phillies could move the right-hander, who is set to earn $13MM in each of the next two seasons, and look to sign a more affordable closer, Rosenthal adds in a second tweet. Papelbon's deal also has a $13MM vesting option for the 2016 season that triggers if he finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 games between 2014-15. Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly adds (via Rosenthal) that Papelbon's no-trade protection allows him to select 12 teams to which he will approve a deal.
Papelbon, 33, saved 29 games and posted a 2.92 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 61 2/3 innings for the Phillies in 2013 — the second season of a four-year, $50MM deal. Though his superficial numbers appear strong, Papelbon's average fastball velocity dropped to a career-low 92 mph, and his 10.6 percent swinging-strike rate was also the lowest of his career.
Papelbon's name surfaced in trade rumors over the summer, as he was believed by some to be available with the Phillies looking to shed payroll and get younger. Papelbon made some incendiary remarks about the direction of the Phillies in July, flatly stating, "I definitely didn't come here for this." Asked about the contract in retrospect, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said in August that he would make the signing again and had no regrets other than they way the team has played as a whole. In an interview later that month, Amaro called Papelbon "crucial" to the Phillies' success and said he expected to see Papelbon closing out games for the Phils in 2014.
It's a tough time to be shopping an expensive closer, as the market bears plenty of options in the form of Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney, Chris Perez, Jose Veras and John Axford. Amaro could likely increase interest if he were to show a willingness to sweeten the pot by eating some of Papelbon's salary. Otherwise, Papelbon is a tough sell at two years and $26MM in a market where Joe Nathan commanded just a two-year, $20MM contract.