By Sam Bush
Phillies closer Jonathan Pepelbon didn’t mince words when asked about the possibility of being dealt as the major leagues’ trade deadline approaches and the Phillies fall further behind in the National League East.
“Some guys want to stay on a losing team?” he said. “That’s mind-boggling to me.”
Thursday, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he wasn’t bothered by Papelbon’s comments.
“He never expressed to me that he’s been unhappy,” Amaro said. “Why wouldn’t players want to play on a contending team? It’s really rather simple.”
Papelbon’s 1.24 ERA and 22 saves in 24 opportunities (37 total appearances overall) make him a desirable asset for contenders looking for late-inning bullpen help, but with roughly $19.5 million left on a four-year, $50 million deal signed in Nov. 2011, Amaro may not find many trade partners.
Since joining the Phillies, Papelbon is 12-8 with a 2.36 ERA and 89 saves but Philadelphia, which made the postseason every year from 2007-2011, has not qualified for the playoffs since Papelbon joined the team and only once finished .500, going 81-81 in 2012.
“I came here for a reason … and I say that because I’m with a group of guys in the bullpen that can do very special things in the future,” Papelbon said. “I’ve been waiting for that, you know what I mean? It’s fun to be a part of that, it really is. We are there finally with our bullpen. So that aspect of it would kind of suck to leave. But at the same time, winning is the cure-all of cure-alls.”
While Papelbon suggested he’d waive his no-trade clause to join a contender, Phillies veterans Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, also rumored to be on the trading block, have expressed a desire to stay in Philly.