Report: Dodgers to pursue Papelbon?

Report: Dodgers to pursue Papelbon?
July 17, 2014, 10:30 am
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Jonathan Papelbon has the lowest strikeout rate of his career (8.0 per nine) but also has a 1.21 ERA with no home runs allowed. (USA Today Images)

Last week, Jonathan Papelbon made known his desire to pitch for a contending team.

He might just get his wish.

The Dodgers are expected to pursue the Phillies' closer, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles.

UPDATE: Saxson later tweeted that the Dodgers are actually not interested in Papelbon.

There haven't been many rumored suitors for Papelbon to this point, which is strange given his success this season and the remaining terms of his contract.

Papelbon is owed about $4.5 million more this season and $13 million next year. He also has a $13 million option for 2016 that vests with 55 games finished in 2015 or 100 games finished in 2014-15. The guaranteed money left on his deal does not look as daunting as it did a year ago.

Papelbon is enjoying his best season as a Phillie in their worst year with him on the team. He has a 1.21 ERA in 38 appearances with 22 saves in 24 opportunities. His strikeouts remain down -- he whiffed 11.2 batters per nine from 2007-12 compared to 8.2 in 2013-14 -- but Papelbon is inducing a ton of soft contact and has yet to allow a home run this season.

The Dodgers are a team that could certainly afford to absorb Papelbon's contract, if that's the route the Phillies wish to go. L.A. entered the year with a $230 million payroll.

It's a curious fit, though. The Dodgers have a closer in Kenley Jansen who dominated last season with a 1.88 ERA and had a 2.10 ERA from 2010-13. This season, Jansen has 27 saves in 30 opportunities with a 3.49 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings. Perhaps the Dodgers' plan would be to move Jansen back into a setup role where Brian Wilson has failed. It seems unlikely that the Dodgers would trade for a career closer like Papelbon to have him pitch in the eighth inning.

The Phillies would rather add prospects than subtract salary in a trade, but if they're unable to find difference-making young pieces for Papelbon, clearing his money and moving Ken Giles or Jake Diekman into the closer's role might be the best fallback plan.

We took a look at some of the Dodgers' top prospects on Wednesday, albeit in regard to possible Cole Hamels discussions.

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