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Five Teams the Philadelphia Phillies Could Trade Jonathan Papelbon to in 2014

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Five Teams the Philadelphia Phillies Could Trade Jonathan Papelbon to in 2014

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Jonathan Papelbon

COMMENTARY | Ask any fan of the Philadelphia Phillies what his or her opinion of Jonathan Papelbon is, and prepare yourself to hear a few vulgar expletives.

Not since Billy Wagner has a closer angered Phillies fans so much with his words. Having spent the majority of his career pitching in pressure situations for the Boston Red Sox, it comes as a surprise that Papelbon would not understand the dynamic of Philadelphia.

A compromise could happen with Papelbon, management and the fans. Papelbon wants out, management no longer cares to keep him, and only a few owners of Papelbon jerseys have a reason to want him in Philadelphia.

The possibility that Papelbon is traded during the 2014 season is very likely, especially since the Phillies have a distant chance at finishing higher than 3rd in the National League East.

Many of the best teams in the league already have closers, but there remain a few that could use him and afford his hefty contract:

Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels hope they get more of the good Ernesto Frieri and not the bad in 2014. Frieri had by far his worst season in 2013, finishing with a 3.80 ERA. For any pitcher other than a closer this is acceptable. On a team expected to contend, this equals a handful of losses which become his responsibility. The 2013 season was Frieri's first as the team's full-time closer, and the result has opened up more questions.

The Angels are a team not afraid to spend money. One place they have gone on the cheap is with pitching, specifically the bullpen.

Unfortunately, for the Phillies, the Angels will probably not take Papelbon unless it becomes absolutely necessary for postseason success. In a division with the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers, this may not happen.

New York Yankees

Never rule out the New York Yankees when it comes to adding a new piece. Mariano Rivera has retired and the team's current projected closer is David Robertson, a 28-year-old with 8 career saves.

The Yankees have a near unlimited supply of cash available to spend on the team. They are paying a lot of money to newcomers Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka in 2014. If it means winning a championship, the Yankees will pay Papelbon whatever they have to.

There are always existing rumors that the Yankees are interested in every dominant player. When Papelbon first voiced his displeasure in 2013, the Yankees were a potential target. One of the few factors why Papelbon may have avoided going there when he was originally a free agent could have been as a favor to the Boston fans. Almost three years removed from his Red Sox days, Papelbon may waive loyalty in order to taste success again.

St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals have proven you can win without a consistent closer, doing it with a closer-by-committee for several seasons in recent years. After losing 2013 closer Edward Mujica, who successfully saved 37 games, they turn to the unproven Trevor Rosenthal in 2014.

The Cardinals are a smart team and will only go after Papelbon if no other options are available. A big reason to avoid Papelbon could be his poisonous presence in the locker room. The Cardinals are a primarily young team and Papelbon's negative attitude could potentially damage the chemistry that got them to the World Series in 2013.

Texas Rangers

Will the Texas Rangers ever win a World Series? They went there back-to-back in 2010 and 2011, falling short both times. This is a team still in its prime. When the trade deadline comes, it may want to consider adding a new closer, depending on how other bullpen arms do.

The Rangers already have a very good bullpen. Their top candidate to replace the free-agent departed Joe Nathan is Neftali Feliz. Feliz saved 74 games 2009-2011 before converting to a starter in 2012. Feliz got injured and has pitched less than 50 innings in the last two seasons. Coming off Tommy John surgery, Feliz remains a mystery.

Papelbon going to the Rangers makes a lot of sense. They have enough talent and have in recent years proven they are willing to make trades to fill voids. Fan-favorites Michael Young and Ian Kinsler were both traded away and we can expect that others might be too if it means they believe Papelbon is the key to winning the World Series.

Toronto Blue Jays

The 2013 Toronto Blue Jays were supposed to be a lot better than they were. Becoming a heavy favorite at the beginning of the season for the first time since the early-1990s, the Blue Jays showed the fans they were willing to spend money in hopes of winning. Sadly, it did not work out.

Casey Janssen is the current arm the team hopes to close games for them. Talented and cheap, it would take a really bad season for him to lose his role. Papelbon would only go to the Blue Jays under the condition that the Blue Jays lose Janssen, and they continually lose close games due to blown saves.


Tim Boyle is a lifelong and loyal Philadelphia sports follower who enjoys writing about his favorite teams and discovering unique statistical facts.

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