On ESPN's Sunday night baseball broadcast, the genius that is Steve Phillips suggested that Daniel Bard is the Red Sox closer of the future and that the off-season may be Theo Epstein's best opportunity to trade Jonathan Papelbon.
While Papelbon hasn't necessarily struggled this year, he hasn't been nearly as dominant as in past years. His strikeouts are much lower this year and his he's already set a new career-high in walks. With a month left in the season, Papelbon has matched his career-high in home runs allowed and he's getting hit more than he ever has. In addition to his on-field "woes," Papelbon continues to struggle with tact. When asked about the possibility of the Red Sox acquiring Billy Wagner, Papelbon outright questioned the move, comparing it to the Eric Gagne trade of 2007. This spawned a war of words between Boston's closer and the former Met closer, as reported by SI's Jon Heyman. It's not hard to fathom few Boston players missing those type of remarks if Papelbon is dealt.
If the Sox do try to trade Papelbon, expect a hefty haul for Boston as young, effective closers are rarely available and highly valuable.