Two baseball sources told MLB.com on Saturday afternoon that the Cubs, Blue Jays and Nationals are the three teams most seriously pursuing Papelbon with less than a week remaining before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause, but he has said repeatedly it will not be an issue if he is traded to a contender. He also has said he will not leave the Phillies to be a setup man.
That will not be a problem for the Cubs, who are closing by committee, or the Blue Jays, who have Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna holding down the late innings. But the Nationals have Drew Storen, who was 1-0 with a 1.73 ERA and 29 saves in 31 opportunities entering Saturday.
Papelbon is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 17 saves in 17 opportunities.
Perhaps the Nationals would make Storen the setup man to facilitate a trade.
This is not to say a deal is imminent or one will happen, but with the Trade Deadline nearing, the talk is intensifying. That should please Papelbon, who has been asking for more than a year to be traded.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.