We're not even to July yet and the rumors are already flying around the Cardinals.
The latest involves Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.
According to Nick Cafardo, the Phillies believe there are at least 3 teams--the Red Sox, Cardinals and Tigers--that may have some interest in their closer.
From a purely "win now" standpoint, Papelbon would make sense for the Cardinals. He is having an excellent season, with a 1.46 ERA in 24.2 innings to go along with 13 saves. He would definitely help shore up the back end of the Cardinals bullpen and likely push Edward Mujica back to his 7th inning role from the beginning of the season.
However, there is some baggage that comes with Papelbon. Namely he is owed another $26 million on his contract for 2014-2015, plus a potential vesting option for 2016 for another $13 million. A pretty steep price for a pitcher on the wrong side of 30.
Ever since Jason Isringhausen and the Cards parted ways after the 2008 season, the Cardinals have been very frugal when it comes to finding their closer, typically filling the position from within. That's not to say that they definitely wouldn't pursue Papelbon, but it seems to go against their philisophy.
In addition, you have to consider the cost in terms of the prospects it would take to land Papelbon. I'm guessing the Cardinals might have to part with one of their top prospects, such as Kolten Wong.
Finally, Mujica has been perfect in his save chances so far this season. If it ain't broken, why fix it?
Add it all up and I think its highly unlikely that the Cards will pursue Papelbon. If the Cardinals are going to part with one of the top prospects, I think its more likely that they will pursue an upgrade to their starting rotation. Otherwise, they will probably target a lesser reliever that will not cost as much.