Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Market for Jonathan Papelbon

Former Mets GM Steve Phillips chimes in on the possibility of trading Jonathan Papelbon:
"I think if Papelbon is available, and I think he will be, I think there will be a significant market for him and the teams will really step up," he said on WEEI on Tuesday. "When you look at the Bobby Jenkses of the world who might be available via trade, and guys like that ... Papelbon stands out as a difference-maker."
Sure, Papelbon is a difference maker. His performance as the Red Sox closer since 2006 has been phenomenal.

However, I have no idea where Phillips is coming from saying that there will be a significant market for Papelbon. The only teams that would be willing to take on Papelbon and the $9 or so million that he will make in arbitration are teams with high payrolls.

Here is the list of teams with payrolls exceeding $90 million in 2009 and their potential closing situation for 2010:

Cardinals: Ryan Franklin
Braves: ?????
White Sox: Jenks (or Thornton)
Mariners: Aardsma
Astros: ?????
Dodgers: Broxton
Angels: Fuentes
Red Sox: Papelbon
Phillies: Brad Lidge
Tigers: ??????
Cubs: Carlos Marmol (????)
Mets: Francisco Rodriguez
Yankees: Mariano Rivera

So out of 12 teams with $90+ million dollar payrolls, only three of them (maybe the Cubs as well) have uncertain closing situations as we look forward to 2010.

However, the Astros have stated publicly that they are looking to cut payroll in 2010, so I doubt they'd be looking to spend $9 million (plus the prospects) on a closer.

Also, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has stated publicly that the team will have payroll constraints this offseason. Unless they can move some salary around, I doubt the Tigers would look to add Papelbon.

So that leaves us with the Braves and possibly the Cubs. And even the Cubs have limited payroll flexibility this offseason!

The "significant market" that Phillips refers to consists of one team that needs a closer (Braves), two teams that need a closer and have payroll limitations (Tigers and Astros), and one team that might need a closer, but might not be able to pony up for Papelbon (Cubs).

Who knows? Things can chance in the next few weeks. But right now, the significant market Steve Phillips is referring to is shaky at best.


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Anonymous said...

Steve Phillips is an idiot. That's my thought.

Jorge Says No! said...

Well said, sir. More proof of this coming later....

davejb851 said...

It's unfortunate for 'the dancin fool' to be somewhat expendable in the middle of a lousy economy. So I will offer two opinions,
1) He's not free from the Red Sox just yet. Two years of contract controlling interest does not a free man make.
2) MLB owners have historically, and often irrationally paid unrealistic, unnecessary, and irresponsible sums for top flight talent.
It's like a kid in a candy store. give them a $10 bill and expect change back?
I actually think #2 should be first!

Anonymous said...

Of course there is a market for Papelbon. Say what you want about high payroll teams, but the key to Papelbon for small market teams is that while his ANNUAL salary might be $9 million, he is under team control and should be a Type A free agent in two years. He is also cost controlled for two years as I said. So the team knows his cost, and won't have to sign him to a long-term deal. Therefore he has value to smaller teams.

By the way, I also work for Steiner Sports, the leading sports memorabilia site on the web. Check out the Boston Red Sox merchandise for Papelbon and Sox fans.

Jorge Says No! said...


First off, lemme just say that I'm a huge fan of Steiner Sports. I've been a huge collector of sports memorabilia for over 10 years now. Keep up the great work.

And I gotta say, I don't think the two years means much in this situation. Papelbon will earn around $9 million this season and then get another boost in salary next season thanks to arbitration. Basically, by acquiring Papelbon for two years, a team would have to surrender top prospects, plus more than $20 million just to have his rights for the next two seasons.

That's an awfully steep price tag especially in this economy when so few big market teams DESPERATELY need a closer. And keep in mind, that there are plenty of cheaper options on the free agent market as well...