Despite the rumors of the suitors running out for Jonathan Papelbon, the Washington Nationals come in at almost the last minute and complete a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for the All-Star closer.
Papelbon has been unhappy for quite some time to be stuck on a losing team. Not just losing, but the worst in baseball. There were quite a lot of teams interested in him, but the Phillies wants a lot for him, and so the suitors withered away one by one. In the end, a division rival, and the team currently leading the NL East, came through with the goods.
Papelbon also wouldn’t have agreed to the trade (had a no-trade clause) unless he remained a closer. So the Nationals will move Drew Storen (29 saves in 31 opportunities) to be the team’s setup guy, while Papelbon (17-of-17 this season) will become the ninth-inning man for the Nationals. The 34-year old is the franchise leader in saves for both the Boston Red Sox and the Phillies.
Part of the deal turns Papelbon’s $13 million vesting option for next season into $11 million in guaranteed money. Some of that money will be deferred, and according to ESPN it should be around $3 million. Washington will pay Papelbon the major league minimum, prorated from $507,500, for the rest of this season. Papelbon has been with the Phillies since 2012.
The Phillies will receive Double-A right-hander Nick Pivetta for Papelbon. A 6’5, 220 pounds pitcher, Pivetta was 7-6 with a 3.02 ERA in 18 games and 17 starts between Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg this season. A 22-year-old Canadian, Pivetta was a fourth-round draft selection in 2013. He was ranked by Baseball America as the 10th-best prospect in the Nationals’ organization.