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UPDATE: Brewers in "serious" talks to acquire Jonathan Papelbon

I wrote about trading for Papelbon earlier this winter. It might make even more sense now.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes that the Brewers and Phillies are discussing a Jonathan Papelpon trade. Unsurprisingly I'm seeing a lot of vitriol from Brewers fans on the social interwebs. I get it if you think the guy is a douche. I even get it if you're worried about that contract, though I think that's an easy work around. But if you're against it because he isn't a good reliever anymore, then you're just wrong.

Early in November I actually wrote about why I thought it made sense for the Brewers to go after Papelbon. You should definitely go read that article since it's now relevant. I won't reproduce the entirely of that piece here, but I will give you the outline of my argument in favor of this trade.

1. Jonathan Papelbon is still good. He isn't as good as he once was, but he's still above average.

2. His contract is ludicrous, but his salary for 2015 can be offset by the Phillies including money. In my earlier article I suggested $8 million. The Phillies wouldn't need to includes as much now for the Brewers to make it work since they saved $9 million by trading Yovani Gallardo.

3. His vesting option can be worked around in two ways. He could do like Francisco Rodriguez did when he was traded to the Brewers from the Mets and agree to waive his vesting option for less cash upfront; OR the Brewers just need to avoid allowing him to finish 48 games (which is what needs to happen for the option to vest). The Brewers can reasonably argue that Jonathan Broxton is their incumbent closer. The Brewers can reasonably argue that they are grooming Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel, and/or even Will Smith to be their future closer. If Jim Henderson makes a healthy return, the Brewers can reasonably argue that he was their former closer only deposed due to injury. The point is the Brewers can give several defensible reasons for limiting Papelpon's save opportunities and therefore the ability for his option to vest.

There are definitely ways this Papelbon trade, if it happens, could be bad. If the Brewers give up too much in the way of prospects I'd be upset. I just don't see that happening even if the Phillies were to pay his whole contract. I could see a couple of the Brewers second tier prospects being included. Think along the lines of Ty Wagner (4th starter with upside of 3 and floor of middle relief) or Michael Reed (4th outfielder with upside of average right fielder). I haven't heard anything about what the Brewers might trade to get him and if the Gallardo trade is any indication, we won't know until it's a done deal.

If Papelbon ends up having a terrible year this trade would look bad. I'll reiterate though, he has still been a good reliever. He just fails in comparison to what he was once capable of. It's just like with Broxton. Neither is as good as they once were, both are still solid pitchers.

If you're still not sold that Papelbon is a boon for this team (and really why aren't you the guy has been worth over 1 WAR each season of his career including last year) as far as I know Papelbon doesn't have any injury red flags. Stability might even be more important for this bullpen than overall talent potential. Besides, it's not like there are any options in free agency that are any better.

One potential obstacle to this trade is Jonathan Papelbon's no-trade clause. There are 17 teams on his list, though their identities are unknown. Papelbon likely wants out of Philly, but to waive his no-trade clause to go to Milwaukee is essentially giving up the $13 million vesting option (for the reasons I listed above). It's hard to believe he wants to leave that badly.

I have no idea how close this thing is to happening or if it will actually happen at all. It seems to me though, when things are referred to as "serious" and it concerns the Brewers, it's usually close to being a reality. Brewers are known for keeping things close to vest after all. If any more news does break, we'll be sure to keep you informed so keep checking back.

*UPDATE 10:00 am: The following tweet from ESPN's Jayson Stark seem to suggest this trade is going to happen:

The fact that Stark uses the phrase "last remaining obstacle" seems to suggest the Brewers and Phillies have agreed on presumably a prospect package. It might also mean this trade is indeed happening. If all that's left to discuss is monetary compensation it's likely a deal can be struck. Prospect packages are often what holds a deal up. But we probably shouldn't assume anything just yet. There is potentially a lot of money involved and with Milwaukee's payroll restrictions it could derail this trade.

It's also interesting to note that the obstacle is in how much the Phillies would pay if the 2016 option vests.

There has been some thought that in order for this trade to happen the Brewers would need to guarantee Papelbon's 2016 option in order for him to waive his no-trade clause. Stark further tweets that according to "sources" waiving the no-trade won't be an obstacle.

That could mean Papelbon is willing to waive his no-trade clause. That fits the idea that they're trying to agree to monetary compensation if the option vests. It just seems so unlikely that Papelbon would waive his no-trade. What seems more likely is that the Phillies agree to pay a significant portion of his 2016 salary and the Brewers would then agree to guarantee his option year.

The downside here is that the Brewers would likely have to part with better a better prospect package. They would also be on the hook for whatever they owe Papelbon in 2016. It also seems more risky because Papelbon is getting older and his velocity has been declining.

I was all for this trade when it seemed like a good chance it was only for a 1 year commitment. Adding that second year changes the dynamic a lot. I still doubt the Brewers would have to give up one of their better prospects so it might still make sense.

UPDATE 10:20 am: Jayson Stark clarifies that indeed Jonathan Papelbon would agree to waive his no-trade clause but that Milwaukee would have to guarantee his 2016 option. So it seems that the Brewers and Phillies would be working on coming to terms with respect to monetary compensation for the 2016 season.