While the Dodgers have been a rumored suitor for Cole Hamels for like three years, there might be another, less expensive reason for the Dodgers to call up Ruben Amaro Jr.
According to Ryan Fagen of Sporting News, the Dodgers are a possible landing spot should the Phillies move closer Jonathan Papelbon.
While Papelbon has had his fair share of issues, he would be a welcomed sight in the Dodgers bullpen. There’s no way he closes for the Dodgers, as Kenley Jansen is one of the most dominant closers in baseball. However, at times the Dodgers have had trouble getting the ball to Jansen. J.P. Howell has been great this season, but he’s giving up more hits/9 than he has since 2011 and his shiny 0.35 ERA will probably not stay that low for the whole season. The rest of the bullpen, which was so dominant early on, has regressed. Adam Liberatore and Yimi Garcia were untouchable earlier in the season, and now each possess ERAs over 4.00. Pedro Baez has given up six earned runs in 8 1/3 innings since returning from the bullpen. While the bullpen as a whole is less painful than the Brian Wilson/Chris Perez days of last season, it’s still an issue that will probably hurt the Dodgers in the postseason, as it did last season.
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If Papelbon would accept an eighth inning role, he instantly shortens the game and gives the Dodgers a formidable 1-2 punch to end the game. Barring a trade to bolster the rotation, the Dodgers should be sending out Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Brett Anderson as their primary postseason starters. Kershaw has gone at least six innings in 18 of his 19 starts, and Greinke has gone at least 6 in each of his 19 starts. Anderson has done so in 11 of his 18 starts, but he was supposed to be the Dodgers’ fifth starter and he’s had a history of injury issues, so that number is also pretty impressive. If the Dodgers can get 6+ innings out of their starters in the postseason, then hand the ball to a combination of Howell, Paco Rodriguez, Papelbon, and Jansen for the last three innings, they bullpen shouldn’t be an issue.
Papelbon has been great this season, having allowed seven runs in 36 2/3 innings. His hits/9 is a little higher than it was last year, (7.1 compared to 6.1), but he has only walked seven batters this season and he’s only given up three home runs, despite playing in an extremely hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park. More importantly for most Dodger fans, Papelbon is nails in the postseason. He hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2009, but of the 100 batters he’s faced in the postseason, only 25 have reached base via hit, walk or intentional walk. He’s struck out 23 of those 100 batters and has only given up three runs in 27 innings.
It’s always hard to gauge what it would take to trade with the Phillies, as Ruben Amaro Jr. is known for setting insane prices. A report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale said that last year, Amaro asked the Dodgers for Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias for Hamels. I’d imagine that conversation went a little something like this.
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Ned Colletti: Hey Ruben what would it take to get Cole?
Ruben: Seager a..
Colletti: I don’t think we ca…
Ruben: I wasn’t finished. Seager and Joc and Urias
Papelbon is on a much shorter contract and probably isn’t as valuable as a front-line starter like Hamels, so I would think his asking price would be a lot lower. Papelbon has a vesting option for next year that will pay him $13 million if he finishes 55 games this season or 100 combined in 2014 and 2015. He’s currently at 32 games finished, but since he finished 52 games last year he only needs 16 more for that option to kick in. It likely will happen if he remains with the Phillies, but if he gets moved to the Dodgers and becomes an eighth inning guy, it probably ends up being a rental.
There’s also this issue:
If this list is still accurate, Papelbon can block a trade to the Dodgers, which he likely would do in order to keep that $13 million next year. Papelbon wants to be out of Philly and on a contender, but I would imagine he wants to be a closer just as much and would rather go to a potential playoff team in need of a closer. Fagen’s article had the Dodgers with the third best chances to acquire Papelbon, behind Toronto (who Papelbon can block but probably wouldn’t) and the Cubs.
The Dodgers definitely need bullpen help, and Papelbon would provide it. I would absolutely prefer an Aroldis Chapman or Tyler Clippard, Papelbon would instantly improve the bullpen and provide that playoff experience that I’m still not sure if I value. If Papelbon would accept the eighth inning role, he would be an extremely welcome addition to this team. However, that’s a huge if, and even if he does Amaro could go full Amaro and ask for the world for the 34-year-old closer.
The Dodgers also activated OF Carl Crawford from the 60-Day DL prior to Tuesdays’ game. They optioned pitcher Brandon Beachy and DFA’d Preston Guilmet, who according to the Dodgers’ website, has been traded, designated, claimed and sent down 13 times this season and 20 times last season. This leaves the Dodgers with only 11 pitchers on the 25-man roster, so another move will have to happen before Saturdays’ game which was scheduled to be a Beachy start (Zach Lee please).