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As the trade deadline approaches the 2014 season, many teams who are unlikely going to finish the year in the playoffs have been looking to trade away their stars that are taking up cap-space.
In the Philadelphia Phillies organization, a player who general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. attempted to trade last year was closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Papelbon left Boston in the 2011 offseason, signing a four-year, $50 million dollar deal with the Phillies. The Phillies were unable to trade Papelbon in 2013 due to one of his worst years as a closer where he went 20-for-36 in save opportunities.
However, a bounce-back first half of the season has left many teams interested with the right-hander. Through 38 appearances, Papelbon has 22 saves in addition to his 1.21 ERA and 0.86 WHIP; a line many dominant closers have been unable to match.
If traded, the Phillies will presumably give rookie Ken Giles the job. In just 13 games, Giles has shown he is unhittable, as betters are just batting .108 against him.
The righty has pitched in 14 innings, surrendering just seven hits and three walks, while striking out 18. He currently has an ERA of 0.64 and a K/BB ratio of 6.00. He has shown in just 13 appearances that he has the ability to be a lights-out closer.
On July 7, Giles was given an opportunity in the set-up role and finished the game with his first hold of the year. Being brought up as a middle reliever, Giles has grown into a reliable bullpen option as shown by the Phillies management trusting him to become a set-up man within 12 big league appearances.
“He’s really aggressive right now, throwing early strikes and getting ahead,” manager Ryne Sandberg told Montgomery News. “He’s getting some good experience and passing the test.”
The seventh round pick has proven to be a valuable asset for the Phillies and it seems that once Papelbon is out of Philadelphia – whether it be by trade now or free-agency in a couple years – Giles will be the new, untouchable closer.