Phillies’ Papelbon ‘would go anywhere that wants me’
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Jonathan Papelbon won a World Series ring with Boston in 2007 and was hoping to earn more when he signed a $50 million, four-year contract with Philadelphia, a record deal for a relief pitcher.
He has yet to play in a playoff game with the Phillies. Since he arrived, Philadelphia has not finished a season with a winning record.
”I would go anywhere that wants me,” the 34-year-old right-hander said Friday following the second day of workouts for Phillies pitchers and catchers at spring training. ”If Philadelphia still wants me and they want me to be a piece of this puzzle and continue to be a leader in this bullpen, I love my chances of staying here and competing. But if Toronto wants me, if Milwaukee wants me, whoever wants me, they’re going to get someone who knows how to compete and go play ball and lay it on the line. That’s basically what it boils down to for me.”
Philadelphia has said it would trade starter Cole Hamels for the right deal. Papelbon has some control over hit situation because of a limited no-trade clause: He can block deals to 17 teams.
Papelbon is looking for an indication of the team’s direction from president Pat Gillick, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and manager Ryne Sandberg.
”I’m still not so sold on this entire rebuilding,” Papelbon said. ”I know that that’s one of the things that myself and some of the veterans that are going to be coming into camp want to probably sit down with Pat and Ruben and Ryno and and say, ‘Hey, you know. Let’s get a little bit better feel on the state of the organization and let’s come up with a plan and go one way or the other.’ I just think we’re kind of in limbo now. Spring training is going to be able to dictate that.”’
His contract includes a $13 million option for 2016 that would become guaranteed if he has 48 games finished this year and is not on the disabled list at the end of the season with a shoulder or elbow injury. He was suspended seven games and fined by Major League Baseball in September for making a lewd gesture during a game and then bumping an umpire.
”No, I don’t have any regrets at all coming here,” Papelbon said. ”I get to play in an intense environment every day. I was the highest-paid closer in baseball. Why would I regret any of that?”
Among the Phillies’ veteran core, only shortstop Jimmy Rollins was traded during the offseason. Hamels and left-hander Cliff Lee remain along with first baseman Ryan Howard — and their large salaries.
The production of Howard, Utley, Lee and catcher Carlos Ruiz have diminished in recent seasons.
”I think the biggest thing that a lot of people aren’t seeing is that Philadelphia still has some great players,” Papelbon said. ”Are we getting old? Do we need to make adjustments? Well, everybody has to do that at certain points of their career. I still think we can compete. Is that crazy for me to think that? You tell me.”