Cubs, Blue Jays reportedly interested in Phils closer
as well as the Toronto Blue Jays regarding a trade for closerJonathan Papelbon
. While the Cubs bullpen has improved over the last month, the closer role has become a “by committee” role afterHector Rondon
has struggled. Should this be an “at all costs” type of deal? I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s one they need give their full attention.
Even with the signing of Rafael Soriano, Papelbon is an interesting target. The Cubs currently have three, maybe even four guys counting Neil Ramirez who could close ballgames. But the team is competing a year ahead of schedule, and they don’t really have the luxury of trying to figure it out on the go. If we were in the final year of the “rebuilding plan”, I’d be fine watching skipper Joe Maddon try to identify the guy for next year.
Soriano has saved 3o or more games in the past five seasons four times, and 40 or more three of them. Bu the lost the job in Washington last season, and hasn’t pitched in the majors this year. So expecting him to come in and secure the job right away is dangerous thinking.
Then there’s Jason Motte, who saved 42 games in 2012 to lead the league when he was in St. Louis. But a month ago he looked like his job could be in danger. Since May 15, Motte has pitched to the tune of a 2.70 ERA, holding opponents to a .130 batting average while going 1-0 with a save and three holds.
Hector Rondon had the job locked down but lost Maddon’s faith. Pedro Strop is capable, but I like him more in the eighth. And Ramirez has the stuff, but his return is still unknown with his shoulder issue. So why not Papelbon? There’s no one more ready to slide right into the closer’s role than he is.
Papelbon has made it clear he wants out of Philadelphia, and Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were in Boston when the Red Sox drafted him. And Theo hasn’t been shy about showing his love for former Red Sox players and giving them at least a shot in Chicago. They seem to be aware of Papelbon’s brash personality and have no issues. For that matter, Soriano has some “attitude baggage”, but the Cubs feel Maddon is the perfect man to bring it all together.
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One of the biggest selling points is that the Phils seem to be willing to eat part of Papelbon’s deal. He’s due $8 million this year and becomes vested on his 2016 option with 26 games this year. He’s at 22 now. So the question will be what do the Phillies want. We’re not talking anything like the Cole Hamels package, but if the Phils are willing to pay for part of the deal, the Cubs may have to give up some quality low-level guys at the minimum.
Even though Papelbon doesn’t have the velocity he once did, he’s having a fine season with 12 saves in 12 opportunities ans a 1.13 ERA for a Philadelphia team that just isn’t very good. I’ve been hesitant to declare the Cubs should make any deals, but this is one I think needs a good, hard look. The bullpen has rounded out in the last month and adding him will strengthen this group even more, as well as adding more depth. With Cubs starters pitching well but not getting deep into games, having an arsenal of five possible closers to finish a game? I’m in.