Blue Jays Rumors: Alex Anthopolous scouting Jonathan Papelbon
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopolous surprises many when he was spotted in the stands to watch Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.
When you are collectively known as “The Ninja” within the circle of fans and media, there should be little to no surprise when reports come in about you lurking in the shadows. Still, it was a bit of a shock when Toronto Blue Jays general manager was spotted in the stands in Clearwater on Friday, presumably to watch Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon pitch.
Apparently, the Blue Jays may not be as committed to having Brett Cecil in the closer role as we once thought.
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According to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, Anthopoulos was seated firmly in the scouts box at the start of the game. With Papelbon getting the start due to expected rain, he was on hand to watch the right-hander pitch a scoreless frame, mixing in a walk and a strike-out in the process. However, Alex left before the completion of the third inning, perhaps due to rain, perhaps due to having seen what he came to see.
Of course, the winter has been riddled with rumors of the Blue Jays purported interest in Jonathan Papelbon. Philadelphia has made the erstwhile closer available both in an attempt to free themselves of his salary and as a means to appease Papelbon, who has made it publicly known that he wished to pitch for a contender.
In one such instance, Papelbon was very open with the media, noting that he would be accept a trade to Toronto (he has the Blue Jays on his no-trade list).
"“Yes, Toronto, interests me — if it interests Ruben. I know some of the guys on their coaching staff. They’re a good team. If Ruben can do a deal with them, I’d be interested.” – Jonathan Papelbon (h/t Jim Salisbury)"
However, the Blue Jays continue to have their own payroll issues, which make taking on Papelbon’s salary a bit of a challenge unless Rogers decided to open the wallet just a bit further. Papelbon is due to earn $13 million in 2015 and has a very reachable vesting option for 2016, which guarantees him abother $13 million if he finishes 48 games in 2015. With Toronto on his no-trade list, Papelbon will surely demand that that option become guaranteed in order for him to waive his no-trade rights.
That may seem like a lot of money, but given the salaries handed out this winter, that may not be so rich in the context of the current closers’ market. Add in the track record of Papelbon, who pitched to 39 saves, a 2.04 ERA, 2.54 FIP, and a 8.5 K/9 ratio, he would certainly provide the kind of proven commodity at the end of the bullpen that the Blue Jays would desire.
However, as we all know, Ruben Amaro isn’t exactly letting any of his tradeable commodities go for free either, and Papelbon will certainly cost the Blue Jays a sizable piece, or two or three. Given the Blue Jays are featuring many of their prized rookies this spring, there have been questions about whether Toronto has tried to market these players by pushing them faster than they were originally penciled to develop. Of course, that means arms like Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna will suddenly be in high demand, but given what we’ve seen from them, would the Blue Jays really be comfortable given them up for a two-year rental on Papelbon?
We’ll have to see if this latest rumor amounts to anything or if it’s just a matter of Papelbon doing his due diligence at the end of the spring.