It’s probably going to be fun watching the relationship between Jonathan Papelbon and the rest of his Washington Nationals teammate, with one year remaining on his contract and clear hatred between him and the organization.
Papelbon is filing a grievance against the team after failing to pay his salary during his four-game suspension last season due to his role in the dugout fight with Bryce Harper, as Papelbon choked the NL MVP. It happened near the end of the Nationals playing against Papelbon’s former team, the Philadelphia Phillies, which was also the first game since the Nationals were officially out of the playoff race after leading the division for most of the season.
Papelbon’s argument is that there’s no precedent of a player not getting paid during a team-imposed suspension. Harper was walking off the field after a fly ball, while Papelbon was coming on to pitch. The two exchanged words, Papelbon started choking Harper and coaches & players had to pull the two apart.
Papelbon was supposed to be the bullpen extra that delivers the postseason berth. He was acquired from the Phillies for Nick Pivetta, coming in with cash and an $11 million deal for 2016. An All-Star in 2015, Papelbon didn’t do too badly in Washington, but he wasn’t as good as before, with an ERA of 3.04 in 22 games, finishing with 7 saves and two blown ones. He struck out only 6.1 hitters per nine innings, the lowest number of his career.
Now it’s going to be a full year of Papelbon on the team, with plenty of bad blood between him, a former player on a hated rival, the team and its biggest star. It’s more and more difficult moving him considering his behavior and salary, and if things don’t go well from the start, it’s going to be a long and interesting season (for the outsiders) of Papelbon vs his own team, until they find someone to dump his contract on with very little time remaining in the season, unless something magical happens and the Nationals aren’t hurt from this.