Here are Nationals’ former closer Drew Storen’s comments regarding the Jonathan Papelbon trade. You know, the trade that made him the former Nats closer:
“All I’m going to say is, I’m aware of the move and I’ve talked to Mike about it. I’ve talked to my agent about it,” Storen said. “We’ve had some ongoing discussions. Until those have progressed, I’m just going to leave it at that. No comment for now. But as the situation goes, I’ll keep you guys posted.”
Not exactly the team-first sort of comment the Nats likely hoped for. But then again, being a closer comes with a weird set of politics that make me-first more valuable than team-first in many instances. Thanks to the save stat — still the only stat that dictates a player’s usage rather than the other way around — the way you make serious money as a relief pitcher is to get those fancy and magical saves.
Of course, a good way to solidify yourself as a Brand Name relief pitcher is to have some big innings, including setup innings, in the playoffs. That’s how we all met Mariano Rivera way back in the day. The Papelbon acquisition improves the Nationals and makes the playoffs far more likely. So whether Storen is thinking me-first or team-first or some combination of both, this can be a good thing for him long-term.
Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post was first to report that a deal was close, and now Jon Morosi of FOX Sports has it confirmed: Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon is headed to the Nationals.
ESPN’s Jim Bowden first relayed that the return for the Phillies would be a pitching prospect who is currently with the Nationals’ Double-A club. That prospect is right-hander Nick Pivetta, per Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. He was ranked the 12th-best prospect in the Nationals’ system this winter by MLB.com, so this is basically a salary dump.
Papelbon has stated that he would only waive his no-trade clause if he gets to remain a closer, so he’s going to push Drew Storen into a setup role in Washington.
Papelbon owns a sparkling 1.59 ERA and 40/8 K/BB ratio in 39 2/3 innings this season for the Phillies, and he’s 17-for-17 in save opportunities. The 34-year-old right-hander is earning $13 million this year and he carries a $13 million vesting option for the 2016 season. According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Papelbon is going to give up that vesting option for an $11 million guaranteed salary.
Where and for what has yet to be determined–the Nationals are said to be making a strong push, for instance–but Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Phillies will trade closer Jonathan Papelbon prior to Friday’s deadline.
Papelbon has made it very clear that he wants out of Philadelphia, but is apparently unwilling to serve as a setup man on another team. Not coincidentally, his $13 million option for next season vests based on games finished, so his 2016 status revolves around whether he remains in the closer role down the stretch.
Washington has emerged as a potential landing spot, but Nationals closer Drew Storen has saved 29 games with a 1.73 ERA. Papelbon has been every bit as good, albeit in far fewer save chances thanks to the Phillies’ underwhelming supporting cast, saving 17 games with a 1.59 ERA.