WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon has filed a grievance against the Nationals for failing to pay his salary when the right-hander was suspended for the final four games of the 2015 regular season. Papelbon was involved in a dugout altercation with teammate and outfielder Bryce Harper.
Papelbon’s argument is that there was no precedent for a player’s salary to be withheld during a team-issued suspension. A date for a hearing has not yet been set.
The Nationals are shopping Papelbon as well as bullpen mate Drew Storen at the Winter Meetings. The club acquired him ahead of the trade deadline in July from the Phillies.
After meeting with free agent super utility man Ben Zobrist on Wednesday, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets will meet again with Zobrist’s representatives this week. Carig adds that the Mets are among six teams still in the mix.
Zobrist, 34, hit a combined .276/.359/.450 with 13 home runs, 56 RBI, and 76 runs scored in 535 plate appearances between the Athletics and the Royals last season. The A’s sent him to Kansas City ahead of the trade deadline in July, getting Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea in return.
In other free agency news, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports that Mets assistant GM John Ricco said the club is “unlikely” to re-sign outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that the Red Sox are drawing trade interest in starters Wade Miley and Joe Kelly. The club would seek bullpen help in return.
Both pitchers are coming off of subpar 2015 campaigns. Miley posted a 4.46 ERA with a 147/64 K/BB ratio in 193 2/3 innings. The Red Sox acquired him from the Diamondbacks in December last year in exchange for Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, and Raymel Flores. Kelly compiled a 4.82 ERA with a 110/49 K/BB ratio over 134 1/3 innings. He joined the Red Sox along with Allen Craig in exchange for John Lackey, Corey Littrell, and cash in a trade at the deadline in July 2014.
Miley is owed $6 million in 2016 and $8.75 million in 2017 before being eligible for free agency, assuming he’s bought out at $500,000 ahead of the 2018 season. Kelly is entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility after earning $603,000 this past season.
The Red Sox have already bolstered the bullpen this offseason, bringing flamethrowing closer Craig Kimbrel over from the Padres, bumping Koji Uehara into the set-up role. They also made a big improvement in the rotation, inking David Price to a seven-year, $217 million deal.
Update #2 (9:45 PM EST): It’s a three-year deal, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Update (8:19 PM EST): Joel Sherman of the New York Post is reporting that the two sides aren’t in agreement yet, but it is believed that the two sides will indeed reach an agreement.
Jim Bowden of ESPN and Sirius XM is reporting that the Dodgers and starter Hisashi Iwakuma have come to an agreement on a contract. There was a run on starting pitching in free agency and the Dodgers came up empty — watching Zack Greinke sign with the division rival Diamondbacks — so they reportedly pushed for Iwakuma on Saturday night and reached a conclusion on Sunday.
The Mariners and Giants were both reportedly in the mix for Iwakuma. The right-hander declined the Mariners’ $15.8 million qualifying offer, which means the Mariners will get draft pick compensation and the Dodgers will forfeit their first-round draft pick. They will, however, get two picks back as Greinke and Howie Hendrick each declined the club’s $15.8 million qualifying offers.
Iwakuma suffered a strained lat muscle during the first half of this past season, and he made only 20 starts as a result. He posted a 3.54 ERA with a 1.064 WHIP and a 111/21 K/BB ratio over 129 2/3 innings.
Details of the contract are not yet known but we will pass them along as soon as they are made available.
Bo McKinnis, the agent for David Price, said that the left-hander was shocked that the Blue Jays didn’t make him an offer, Jim Bowden of ESPN and Sirius XM reports. Price inked a seven-year, $217 million contract with the Red Sox on Tuesday. McKinnis said that Price wanted to return to Toronto.
Rather than re-sign Price, the Blue Jays acquired three pitchers early in the off-season, re-signing Marco Estrada, acquiring Jesse Chavez in a trade with the Athletics, and signing J.A. Happ. In 11 starts with the Jays after they acquired him in a trade with the Tigers at the trade deadline this past July, Price posted a 2.30 ERA with an 87/18 K/BB ratio over 74 1/3 innings. He stumbled a bit in the post-season, allowing 16 runs in four starts, three of which the Jays lost.