On a day of explosive trade news, the Phillies have remained all but silent - until now, it seems.
According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Phillies are actively shopping their closer, Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon is on a 4-year deal, signed before the 2012 season, worth $50 million. He has an option on his contract for 2016. He is paid $13 million annually. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says that there are people in the Phillies clubhouse who want Papelbon gone.
There are 12 teams in Papelbon's no-trade clause that can limit movement. Cheaper closers are available to fill his role without spending nearly as much cash, but teams seem less likely than ever to drop big money on a closer.
The Tigers, Orioles, Indians, Rangers, and Rays were teams that started the offseason looking for closers. The Tigers got Joe Nathan, the Rays nabbed Heath Bell, and the Rangers seem okay with Neftali Feliz. The Orioles traded their closer, Jim Johnson, to the Athletics, but probably aren't trying to inherit a big contract, and the Indians lost Joe Smith to the Angels but are likely just as unenthusiastic about Papelbon's deal. The Phillies are obviously willing to eat part of the contract, if they are willing to trade.
Relievers still available on the open market are Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney, Suk-Min Yoon, Jesse Crain, Chris Perez, Scott Baker, and Carlos Marmol.
Getting Papelbon off the books would loosen the purse strings on the Phillies' payroll, and potentially allow for further moves. With the Winter Meetings next week, this is could a primer for a larger plan.