clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Nationals, Phillies agree to Jonathan Papelbon trade

The Nationals improved their bullpen with the addition of one of the game's best relievers.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Papelbon has not been able to wait to get away from the last-place Phillies, and the team finally granted him his wish: according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, Papelbon has been traded within the division to the first-place Nationals.

The deal was first reported as close by Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. Papelbon will close for the Nationals and be signed for 2016, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Papelbon has a $13 million option for 2016, though Rosenthal noted Papelbon "will be taking millions less" to leave Philadelphia.

The Phillies will receive Double-A right-hander Nick Pivetta in the deal, according to Todd Zolecki of Pivetta, 22, was drafted by Washington in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft and has a 3.02 ERA over 18 appearances (17 starts) between High Single-A and Double-A this season.

The Nats do not have a great bullpen, so adding Papelbon makes all kinds of sense. Tanner Roark was expected to be a significant part of the bullpen after he was bumped for Max Scherzer and Tyler Clippard was sent to the A's, but that didn't work out -- Roark's 2014 as a starter was exponentially more productive. Yes, the Nationals already had Drew Storen as their closer, but adding Papelbon to the mix means they have Storen and Papelbon to go with whatever positive contributions they can get out of the likes of Matt Thornton, Casey Janssen, and maybe Roark, who still has time to rebound.

Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause covering 17 teams, one that he planned to invoke if the Phillies sent him to a non-contender or to a situation where he wouldn't be closing. While Storen has been fantastic in 2015, it's hard to see the Nats keeping him in that spot now that they have one of the greatest relievers ever -- who is still pitching as well as he ever did in his younger years -- in their pen. It's likely that Storen will move into the role Clippard left behind, one no one has managed to fill in his absence, as a dominating setup man.

As for the Phillies, they drop Papelbon on another team and get out from under his $13 million 2016 vesting option. That's not a contract they needed to be wary of, given Papelbon has been so great for them since signing through today, but they're rebuilding and Papelbon will likely be a free agent by the time they are not. It made sense to get value for him now while the offers were there.