Nationals, Phillies agree to Jonathan Papelbon trade

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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.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.