Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon was suspended seven games and fined by MLB on Tuesday night for grabbing his crotch in a gesture pointed towards Phillies fans this past Sunday, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.
Papelbon entered Sunday's game against the Marlins with a three-run lead in the ninth inning and subsequently blew the save. After he was taken out, Phillies fans booed the right-hander, who then grabbed his crotch while walking towards the home dugout at Citizens Bank Park.
The umpires noticed Papelbon's gesture and ejected him immediately despite his protests. Now Major League Baseball has suspended the closer for seven games and fined him an undisclosed amount.
The incident is just the latest evidence that Papelbon isn't exactly enjoying life in Philadelphia despite signing a four-year, $50 million contract with the club prior to the 2012 season. After excelling with the Red Sox for seven years, Papelbon bolted to the Phillies in free agency following the 2011 campaign, earning the most lucrative deal ever handed out to a reliever. He is the second-highest-paid closer in baseball this season, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, after the Nationals' Rafael Soriano.
Despite the ugly incident Sunday, Papelbon has actually had a solid season for the Phillies in 2014. The 33-year-old has posted a 2.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts and 15 walks in 64⅓ innings pitched. Moreover, he has blown only four saves in 41 opportunities.
Even still, Papelbon's large contract (fairly or unfairly) has become an oft-cited example of the poor decisions made by the Phillies front office under GM Ruben Amaro. Over the past few years, the team has spent tons of money on the free agent market, as well as to retain its own aging players, in hopes of maintaining its supremacy in the NL East.
That hasn't worked out, though, with the Phillies set to finish last in the division. And despite Papelbon's 2.48 ERA over his three years in Philadelphia, the contract hasn't translated to nearly as many wins as the Phillies and Papelbon likely envisioned.
With only a year remaining on his contract (though he does possess a vesting option for 2016), Papelbon will surely be on the trade market this offseason.