The Milwaukee Brewers added another arm to their bullpen puzzle yesterday, inking former Indians’ closer Chris Perez to a minor league contract. Perez is far from a sure thing, and the Brewers remain on the lookout for late-inning relief arms. One name that they have been continually connected to over the past few weeks has been Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon. While it was reported early on in the talks that the Brewers and Phillies were in disagreement over financial terms, it seems that there may have been a new development in the deal.
Yesterday, Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com reported on the potential of a Papelbon deal, saying that the Brewers are still considered the favorites to acquire the embattled right hander. The Blue Jays were also discussed, but appear to remain a long shot to land Papelbon’s services. The biggest point that Heyman made was that the discrepancy between the Brewers and Phillies seems to have shifted towards the player(s) heading back to Philadelphia rather than the financial terms of the deal.
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Papelbon is owed $13 mil this season, and has a vesting option for another $13 mil in 2016 if he finishes 48 games this year. Papelbon also has a limited no-trade clause, which includes the Brewers. It’s likely that Papelbon would need his option guaranteed by the Brewers in order to agree to a trade to Milwaukee. The Phillies are in a large market and have significant financial might, so it’s not unfair for the small-market Brewers to ask for some significant cash to be included in the Papelbon deal. The rebuilding Phillies “need” to move Papelbon much more than the Brewers “need” to add Papelbon to their pen. With Francisco Rodriguez still available and interested in a return to Milwaukee, the options the Brewers have and the seemingly limited interest in Papelbon’s services league-wide give Milwaukee more leverage in the talks. Perhaps Philadelphia finally realized they needed to up the ante, and presented a good financial offer.
As far as player(s) going to Philadelphia, I would say that it depends a lot on how much cash is included in the deal. The top name I have seen thrown around on twitter is Taylor Jungmann, the Brewers most major league ready pitcher in their system. Jungmann was drafted 12th overall in 2011, and hasn’t posted overly impressive results in the minors. However, the Brewers did make a major mechanical change in his delivery upon drafting him, and the solid season he posted between AA and AAA last year could suggest he is turning the corner with his new mechanics. Jungmann’s jump in strikeout rates over the past two seasons is also encouraging. He could settle in between a third and fourth starter, which isn’t something that comes cheap these days on the open market. Unless the Phillies are willing to throw in around $10 mil, I would be wary about parting with our most polished pitching prospect. The Brewers have pitchers in the lower minors like Tyler Wagner or Taylor Williams that could be considered a reasonable return for Papelbon, depending on the money.
If the Brewers and Phillies have truly gotten past the financial hurdle that was holding up the Papelbon deal, I can’t help but believe that a trade is a lot closer than we think. The Brewers have the upper hand in negotiations, and I firmly believe that the Phillies will eventually wear down and Papelbon will be pitching in a Brewers uniform for the 2015 Championship Season.