Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, outspoken and colorful as ever, has made no secret of the fact that he hopes and expects the team to trade him to a contender this summer. But he escalated the rhetoric somewhat today while representing the club at the All-Star game, as Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, saying that he feels it’s time for the front office to make a move.
“The Phillies have got to make a decision. You’ve got to go one way or the other,” Papelbon said. “You can’t be in limbo and sit here and say, ’What if we do this or what if we do that?’ You’ve got to make a decision and you’ve got to go with it. I know that we’ve got a new interim president. We’ve got a new interim manager and we’ve got all this change supposedly happening, but I don’t see any of it yet.”
Papelbon summed things up by saying the Philadelphia front office ought to “you know what or get off the pot.” Clearly, for the 34-year-old, it’s less a matter of whether he should be dealt than when. As he said: “If this decision was solely on my shoulders, I would’ve been gone a long time ago.”
Recently, a report suggested that the Phillies had been zeroing in on a deal. But talks were said to have been shelved by the Phils due to higher-level intervention relating to the hiring of president-to-be Andy MacPhail. It’s not clear whether Papelbon’s frustrations are tied at all to that situation.
A deal of some kind would seem a fait accompli — at least, that is, were it not for the complications embedded within Papelbon’s contract. At this point, it’s highly likely that his 2016 option will vest, which at least lends certainty to the equation. But Papelbon’s limited no-trade protection has allowed him to insert his own preferences into the transactional equation — most notably, perhaps, an apparent insistence that he be shipped to a contender that will use him as a closer.
All said, the Phillies do seem rather likely to get something done on Papelbon by the end of the month. But it isn’t inconceivable that he could be moved in August (during the revocable waiver trade period) or even the offseason.