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The Nationals don't want to keep Jonathan Papelbon around, given the whole "choked Bryce Harper in the dugout" thing. They aren't just going to give him away, of course -- he's still Jonathan Papelbon on the mound even if he's Jonathan Papelbon off of it -- but chances are good they're going to shop him at some point this winter. The thing is, they'll have to work around Pap's no-trade clause, which covers 17 different teams.
Now, a no-trade clause can be used for leverage, as it was when Papelbon was dealt from the Phillies to the Nationals in the first place -- he had his 2016 option guaranteed and got Washington to promise he'd replace Drew Storen as the team's closer. It can also be used to avoid going to a particular team, and knowing Papelbon's very public pro-winning team sentiments, he's not about to lift it to go to someone he thinks is going to lose.
Papelbon can block a trade to the D-Backs, Orioles, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Tigers, Dodgers, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Yankees, A's, Phillies, Pirates, Giants, Rangers and Blue Jays. A few of those -- Rockies, White Sox, Brewers, Marlins and Phillies -- seem like non-starters anyway given how their 2016's are expected to go. A few others -- Indians, Pirates, Blue Jays -- might lack the room for Papelbon's $11 million. Others either have no need for him or bigger problems to solve. Combine all that with what is likely a negative outlook of him (at least in some circles) following his September attack on Harper, and it might be tough to move him to one of these teams. But hey, there are 12 others, and Mike Rizzo can certainly trade. Either the Nationals will have a great reliever with a volcanic personality, or they'll find someone to take him away. It's too soon to tell which it'll be, but this wide-net no-trade probably won't help with the latter.
- Justin Upton is something of a forgotten free agent, even though he's just 28 and once again was very productive at the plate.
- The Giants probably can't afford to sign Upton now that they've inked Johnny Cueto, so what are they going to do about left field?
- The Reds and Nationals are discussing a Brandon Phillips trade, which would reunite Phillips with former manager Dusty Baker.
- The Orioles have a secret weapon in their bullpen, writes Jeff Sullivan.
- Speaking of relievers, Russell Carleton wonders if we've been underpricing them by measuring their value the wrong way.
- The Braves have options at shortstop in the future, but which future is the brightest?
- Johnny Cueto had his issues in 2015, but this is how he pitches when he's dominant.
- The Reds aren't just talking about trading Phillips, as they're discussing Todd Frazier with a number of AL Central teams.
- If things go wrong for the Cardinals in 2016 -- I know, I know, stay with me, though -- they could very well be sellers. What would that look like?
- A Hyun-soo Kim decision could come soon, and if he jumps to MLB from the KBO, the Orioles and Padres already made offers.
- Are you sitting down? Good. Please don't be too shocked when you learn that Yoenis Cespedes is still too expensive for the Mets.