MLB Trade Speculation: Jonathan Papelbon and 5 Trades for the Boston Red Sox
Jonathan Papelbon had a rough 2010. He blew eight of his 45 save opportunities, almost 20 percent. His ERA skyrocketed to 3.90, up two full runs from the previous season. And, most importantly, the Boston Red Sox missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
2011 hasn't been much kinder. His WHIP is 1.23, nearly matching the 1.27 he put up last season, and his ERA is up again to 4.50.
There's long been talk about the end of the Papelbon era in Boston. Danny Bard and his 100 mile per hour fast ball look to be a closer in waiting. If Papelbon continues to struggle, his $12 million dollar contract begins to look like an albatross compared to Bard's $505,000.
Boston fans are fiercely loyal and will hate to see Papelbon go. The fans are also "right-now winners," and unless something goes terribly wrong, Papelbon will probably finish the year in Boston. But he is a free agent this summer, and the Red Sox wouldn't want to be LeBron-ified, so if they can get good value for him right now, they'll look into it.
Jonathan Papelbon to the Saint Louis Cardinals
The Saint Louis Cardinals are currently in "closer by committee" mode, with Fernanda Salas getting most of the chances. Salas is having a good year, blowing just one save, but a team with title aspirations like the Cardinals, will want to bring in an established closer.
The Boston Red Sox's only weakness on the field is at catcher, and the Cardinals happen to have a very good one in Yadier Molina. Molina is hitting .319 this season and is the premier defensive catcher in the league. If the Sox threw in Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the Cardinals threw in some minor-league talent, both teams would have to think hard about a trade like this.
Jonathan Papelbon to the Los Angeles Dodgers
With a season-ending injury to Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Boston Red Sox are in need of another starter (Tim Wakefield won't do).
Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley are interesting trade chips for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I'm not sure who the Red Sox would prefer here, the older lefty Lilly or the younger righty (the Red Sox have a righty-heavy rotation) Billingsley.
Who knows if the Dodgers would be willing to deal a top-half starter in order to shore up to bullpen? When your closer is Matt Guerrier and you're supposed to be a contending team, you probably should.
Hideki Okajima to the Kansas City Royals
Hideki Okajima, stuck in the minor leagues, publicly stated his desire to be traded last week. He also said he'd prefer not to be called up with the injury to Rich Hill and, now, Bobby Jenks, but he might not have any choice.
It's unlikely that Okajima would step into the closer role in Kansas City, but with his ERA of just over 1.00 in Pawtucket, he could certainly help make easier save situations for Soria.
Hideki Okajima to the Toronto Blue Jays
It's always tough dealing within the division. But the chances of Hideki Okajima coming back to hurt the Red Sox is minimal, and the Toronto Blue Jays wouldn't be giving any "right-now" talent in a trade.
The Blue Jays have a good catching prospect in Carlos Perez, who hit almost .300 in the minors last season. With Jason Varitek on his way out, the Red Sox need to reload at the catching position, which they began to do by drafting the top catcher in the class, Blake Swihart.
J.D. Drew to Any Other Team
I think I speak for every Boston Red Sox fan when I say, we are tired of you, J.D. Drew. We're tired of your phantom injuries. We're tired of your .227 batting average. We're tired of you being the worst really good baseball player of all time.
I don't care where he goes. And I don't think any other team would want him and his $14 million dollar salary (if you're keeping track, that's almost $5 million per home run this season). He's effectively untradeable.
And the saddest part is, there isn't one weakness in his game. He should, by all accounts, be one of the best outfielders in the league. Five-tool player. What a shame.