PHILLIES CLOSER Jonathan Papelbon might be reporting to Clearwater, Fla., early next month after all.
Three days after the Phillies and Brewers were said to be "in serious discussions" on a Papelbon trade, according to Yahoo Sports, there was no deal to report yesterday. The deal might, in fact, be dead.
At the Brewers' annual winter fan fest this weekend, Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that talk between the Phillies had stalled significantly.
"It doesn't appear there's any momentum to it right now," Melvin told the paper. "It could be revived later, I guess, but right now there's nothing happening. Whatever traction there was seems to have dissipated."
Whether or not talks resume, there are serious stumbling blocks for the Phillies in their attempt to trade Papelbon, just as there are for most of their veteran players.
The Phillies have been committed to rebuilding this offseason, but because of heavy contracts for aging veterans and no-trade clauses, they can't blow up their team, either.
They would love to trade Ryan Howard, but he's still owed $60 million. They'd listen to offers for Chase Utley, but he has a full no-trade clause with no desire to leave (and he could make as much as $55 million in the next four seasons, too).
Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause - he'd have to approve a deal to 17 teams, including Milwaukee - and he has a burdensome contract, too. The 34-year-old is in line to make $13 million this season and has a vesting option for another $13 million in 2016 that kicks in if he finishes 48 games in 2015.
Papelbon could very well demand any team on his no-trade list to pick up that 2016 option to OK a trade.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, could move on from Papelbon and find cheaper free-agent closer options in Francisco Rodriguez or Casey Janssen. Rodriguez, 33, made $3.25 million while saving 44 games for the Brewers last season.
- Ryan Lawrence