Jonathan Papelbon may not be headed for the Dodgers, but he could still find a home in L.A.
Kenley Jansen is being trusted with the ninth inning in Chavez Ravine, but he has no counterpart in the Angels' bullpen. If Mike Scioscia's team is going to make a serious run at the sizzling A's and upstart M's, they'll need some sort of stable arm to rely on late in games.
That's where the Phillies come in, with two experienced eighth and ninth inning relievers having solid years to offer in Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo.
It's not the Angels' fault the Phillies' overpaid for a closer, so the Phillies would have to chew up a bunch of Papelbon's remaining four-year, $50 million deal. And the Angels are curious about San Diego's Huston Street, who has appeared in 33 games, logged 24 saves, given up only four runs, and whose contract for two years and $14 million is a lot less intimidating. It also gives an idea of how much of Papelbon's money would have to come from Philadelphia, if the Angels did want him.
If L.A. were convinced they wouldn't get jipped inheriting Papelbon's mammoth deal, then they wouldn't be able to complain much about his numbers this season: He's only given up five runs in 37.1 innings. In his last 16 appearances, he's given up eight hits and only one earned run with no walks and 15 strikeouts.
On a winning team, there'd be far less scrutiny on his contract and more on the fact that the team was benefitting from, more often than not, three quick (or at least eventual) outs in the ninth. Instead, he's a drain of money at the back end of a bullpen without many save opportunities.
Then there is Bastardo, who has allowed 16 runs in 41.2 innings, and even wrangled that SO/BB ratio into submission through June (7.00), striking out 14 and walking two; a vast improvement over the 1.38 and 1.47 days of April and May. He has yet to be named even theoretically in Angels talks, as his year is not going quite as well as Papelbon's, but would be an affordable backup whose impending free agency makes him a short term investment.
L.A. has explained that, while their pursuit of late inning pitching is the priority, they will not be doing any dismantling of their team at the Major League level to get it. They also don't want to pay any luxury taxes. While Papelbon may be a good fit for their needs, his contract, how much of it the Phillies are willing to eat, and how much better they consider him than Huston Street will all play a factor.
This concludes this particular "Waiting for an Actual Trade to Happen" interlude.