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.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reported this afternoon that the Phillies signed veteran reliever Drew Storen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If Storen makes the major league roster, he will earn a $750,000 salary.
Storen, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Reds. That year, he posted a 4.45 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 23 walks over 54 2/3 innings. Storen then underwent Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2018 campaign. He inked a minor league deal with the Royals last year but struggled in nine appearances with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, resulting in his being released in June.
Robert Murray reports that the Phillies have also signed pitcher Bud Norris to a minor league contract. The right-hander, who turns 35 years old in March, missed the 2019 season due to a forearm injury. Norris was last seen in the majors in 2018 with the Cardinals, compiling a 3.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 21 walks over 57 2/3 innings of relief.
The Phillies had major bullpen problems last year and haven’t otherwise made any new additions so far this offseason. They’re hoping Storen and Norris have a little bit left in the tank.