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.
The Giants announced on Tuesday the hiring of Gabe Kapler as manager. Kapler, filling the extremely large shoes of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy, inked a three-year deal, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Kapler was one of three finalists for the job, beating out Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quataro.
Following his 12-year playing career, Kapler was a coach for Israel’s team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. He then became an analyst for FS1 before joining the Dodgers’ front office as the director of player development in November 2014. He was involved in three scandals there: one in which he tried to handle a sexual assault incident involving two Dodgers minor league players without telling police, one in which he allegedly discriminated against Nick Francona, a veteran and former baseball operations employee, and an incident that implicated most of the Dodgers’ front office concerning the recruiting of international free agents. The Dodgers reportedly kept a spreadsheet of employees and their level of criminality.
Despite Kapler’s background, the Phillies hired him as their manager ahead of the 2018 season. He would lead the Phillies to an 80-82 record that year and then helped them improve by one game in 2019, finishing at exactly .500 before being fired. Kapler’s tenure in Philly was tumultuous, often drawing ire from the local media and subsequently the fan base for not being tough enough on his players. The Phillies also reportedly had a clubhouse issue in 2018 in which players were playing video games in the clubhouse during games, prompting Carlos Santana to smash a TV with a bat.
Kapler has a history with Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations. They worked together in the Dodgers’ front office as Zaidi served as GM from November 2014-18.