Would Jonathan Papelbon be a good fit for the Cubs?
As the All-Star Break draws closer, Major League Baseball’s rumor mill will heat up with all kinds of possibilities for teams. With the Chicago Cubs off to a great start and currently considered contenders for a division title or wild card position, they will be a part of many rumors including countless names.
One name that has come up recently as a bit of a surprise is Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. It’s not that Papelbon potentially being traded is a surprise, but the fact that the Cubs have been linked to him of late is somewhat puzzling.
This has been speculated by two different sources, MLB.com’s Dan O’Dowd and ChicagoCubsOnline.com. O’Dowd suggests that the Chicago Cubs should contact the Phillies about their high-priced all-star closer, allowing Hector Rondon to be more flexible in his relief role; or how I would read it, giving the Cubs an option in case Rondon starts to falter.
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Papelbon is owed roughly $10 million for the rest of this season, and he has an option for 2016 for an additional $13 million – the option is guaranteed if Papelbon finishes 55 games this season or 100 games combined in 2014-15; he is only 33 finished games away from making that option vest.
This year, Papelbon is 10-for-10 in save opportunities with a 1.59 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 21 strikeouts on the season with the Phillies.
This potential transaction may not be as difficult as one may think. With the money owed to him, the fact that he has made it known he wants on a contending team, and the Phillies’ desire to shed payroll, he could be had for a decently small return.
The question the Cubs’ front office has to ask itself is simple: is he worth the price and possible trouble he could bring to a healthy clubhouse?
Papelbon has a wild personality and has caused his fair share of troubles in the clubhouse with his mouth. He doesn’t hold back when he has something to say. That’s not always a bad thing, but it does cause problems when he airs the “dirty laundry” in the media and doesn’t keep it behind closed doors of the clubhouse.
"“I think there’s always honesty from what I say, but sometimes people don’t want to hear it or accept it If you don’t want to hear or accept what I have to say, then those perceptions of me become jaded. At the end of the day, if I’m not true to who I am, what my beliefs are, how I like to go out and compete – I want to be a winner and be on winning ball clubs and shoot to be the best there ever was – then I’m not doing my job. I’m not being who I am. I’m not being honest to myself.” Jonathan Papelbon – via Meghan Montemurro, The News Journal"
Instead of looking at him as a troublemaker, you could say that he’s just a very competitive person who wants the best out of his teammates.
Papelbon would probably fit in with this Cubs team just fine. Joe Maddon is a manager who can relate with all kinds of different personalities, he and Papelbon might mesh really well.
If the price is right for the Cubs, I don’t see any reason not to at least explore the option of adding him. You really can’t have too many good relief pitchers on your team and you cannot deny that Papelbon is still one of the best relievers in the game today.