MILWAUKEE -- Jonathan Papelbon needed just nine pitches to pick up his third save in three days Wednesday at Miller Park.
He is pitching like one of the best closers in baseball, but his efforts have been mostly wasted on a last-place team on pace to lose 91 games. It is why Papelbon made no bones following the Phillies' 4-1 victory over the Brewers that he would welcome a trade to a contending team before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"Some guys want to stay on a losing team?" he asked, sitting in a chair in front of his locker. "That's mind-boggling to me."
So if a contender called he would be willing to go?
"Yeah," he said, chuckling, almost in disbelief at the suggestion somebody would not go. "I think that's a no-brainer."
But Papelbon said he doesn't have a gut feeling whether or not he will be traded before the deadline, although the Phillies have been motivated to move him. They tried to trade him before last year's Trade Deadline and again this offseason.
"I don't have that crystal eight-ball," he said.
Papelbon is 2-1 with a 1.24 ERA and 22 saves in 24 opportunities in 37 appearances this season. His 0.88 WHIP entering Wednesday ranked 20th out of 202 qualifying relief pitchers in baseball. He is owed about $19.5 million on his four-year, $50 million contract: $6.5 million this season and $13 million next season. He also has a $13 million option in 2016 that automatically vests if he finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 games in 2014-15 and is not on the disabled list at the end of 2015 with an elbow or shoulder injury. His contract could be a stumbling block for teams -- although the Phillies have said in recent weeks they would be willing to take on money in the right deal -- but his limited no-trade clause will not be a problem if the Phillies can find a trade partner.
Papelbon shook his head no when asked if his no-trade clause could be a hurdle for the Phillies. He shook his head no again when asked if he had expressed that to anybody in the Phillies' front office.
The Tigers are a winning team in need of bullpen help. Papelbon nodded when asked if he would go to Detroit.
"Yes and no," he said, when asked if he hopes a contending team acquires him. "You know, I came here for a reason ... and I say that because I'm with a group of guys in the bullpen that can do very special things in the future. I've been waiting for that, you know what I mean? It's fun to be a part of that, it really is. We are there finally with our bullpen. So that aspect of it would kind of suck to leave. But at the same time, winning is the cure-all of cure-alls."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less