Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dodgers could be a match for Papelbon

A week ago, Phillies' closer Jonathan Papelbon expressed an interest in being traded to a contender.  He's still owed some mega-bucks in his current deal, most likely limiting the amount of teams that would make a serious run at him.

But these are the Dodgers, they are contenders, and have the payroll flexibility to add more.

Jonathan, meet Los Angeles.

This is all just talk at this point, but with the trade deadline a couple of weeks away, Mark Saxson has tweeted that a baseball source expects the Dodgers to make a run at him.

And why not?  The Dodgers will no doubt look to add to their bullpen, as former closers like Brian Wilson and Chris Perez have underperformed this season.  Brandon League has a 2.09 ERA, but after being hit so hard last season, still does not appear to have Don Mattingly's full confidence in pitching more meaningful innings.

Papelbon would be an expensive setup man, as he's owed $13 million this year and next, and a vesting option for the same amount in 2016 for finishing a certain number of games (55 next year, or 100 total between this year and next).  But again, these are the Dodgers, and they show no care in the world about throwing big money at closers to pitch in middle relief.

I think this would be a great move for the Dodgers.  Papelbon has been a bright light in a dark Phillies' season, converting 22 of 24 save opportunities with a 1.21 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 33 K's in 37 1/3 innings.  He did blow seven saves last year, but still managed a 2.92 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, so it's not like he was atrocious like League.

Papelbon has championship experience with the Red Sox, so he knows what it's like to pitch in big games and succeed.  The price tag is high, but I'm guessing the Dodgers don't really care.

What's not to like about a Papelbon-Kenley Jansen combination to close out games?  That would be a huge advantage in the playoffs with their already strong starting rotation.  For that reason alone, I can see Ned Colletti aggressively pursuing a deal.

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