In many ways, the decision is not Papelbon's to make. The Phillies have been trying to deal their closer since before the 2013 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but so far, they have been unable to find a suitable match. Making $13 million this season, Papelbon owns a $13 million club option for 2016 that automatically vests if he finishes 48 games. He's on pace to do that, having gone 14-for-14 in save situations with a 1.60 ERA.
He's certainly pitched well enough not only to earn his sixth All-Star nod, but to make himself a very intriguing option to clubs in need of relief help.
Papelbon cannot negotiate his own trade. But he can veto deals with a partial no-trade clause, and he has said he would do so to avoid moving to a setup role or to a non-contending team.
Other than that, Papelbon said he would like to part ways with the 29-62 Phillies.
"This isn't what I signed up for," said Papelbon, who left the Red Sox for a four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies before the 2012 season. "I signed up on a team that won 102 games, and was expecting certain things. Now, it didn't happen, and I tried to ride that ship as much as I can. I've tried to keep my mouth shut as much as I can.
"I feel like three years is plenty enough time to 'ride it out,' so to speak. If fans can't understand it, I can't really side with them on that. I'm getting older and I don't know how many more years I have left in this game. I don't know how many All-Star Games I have left. None of that's guaranteed. For me, I'm just trying to be on a winning ballclub and win as many rings as I can before it's all said and done, and I'm coaching [son] Gunner in Little League. That's really all I'm trying to do.
"From my perspective, I don't understand how a fan couldn't understand that. I understand that they wear their hearts on their sleeves and all that stuff, but for me, I'm in it to compete and to win. And I don't have that opportunity in this organization. And I also feel like I gave this organization as many opportunities as they can to put a winning ballclub out there and as many chances to keep me in this organization, and it just hasn't happened."
If Papelbon has his way, a trade is what will happen -- and soon. For him, this All-Star appearance is simply continued validation that he can be more useful elsewhere.
"I thought that I was going to come to Philadelphia and win two more rings," Papelbon said. "I honestly and truthfully did. And then the downward spiral happened, and it happened so quick. It's almost unexplainable."
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