The Washington Nationals trading Drew Storen to the Toronto Blue Jays should be a message suggesting they’re not trading Jonathan Papelbon and have full confidence in him as their closer. But things can change quickly in baseball, and nothing is ever certain.
Right now, he is their guy, despite his dugout fight with Bryce Harper which got him suspended, and led to him going against the franchise for the money he wasn’t given by the ball club while being suspended. Storen, the closer for the Nationals before Papelbon arrived, was traded across the border for Ben Revere, which gives the Nationals more depth at their outfield, or perhaps adds a trading chip for any deal they might make in the next two months.
Storen, the closer until Papelbon arrived, had 29 saves and a 1.73 ERA up until the trade. After that, moved to being an eighth inning set up man, he struggled to finish the season with a 3.44 ERA, while missing some games after breaking his thumb following a bust up with a locker, hitting it in frustration. Storen was excellent in 2014 with a 1.12 ERA in 65 games, but he’ll probably be remembered for his two blown saves in Game 5 of the 2012 Division Series against St. Louis, and in Game 2 of the 2014 Division Series against San Francisco.
Papelbon, who made the All-Star game last season, finished with a 3.04 ERA for the Nationals and seven saves in nine opportunities. Nothing special, and it didn’t get Washington into the playoffs as hoped, but they knew they had one more season to get out of him, making $11 million in 2016 before hitting free agency. No one is ruling out a trade, but perhaps someone from the trio who might be the guys leading up to Papelbon’s closing inning (Shawn Kelley, Yusmeiro Petit and Trevor Gott) will show enough to help the Nationals make up their mind about keeping or trading Papelbon, a lot obviously depending on how the season goes.