The Nationals are “making progress” on acquiring Jonathan Papelbon

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It seemed for a while that no one was gonna swing a deal for Jonathan Papelbon. But never say never:

Talks between these two were first reported over the weekend. Complicated by the fact that Drew Storen is the Nats’ closer and has been doing a good job of it and Papelbon doesn’t want to go anyplace where he won’t close given that he’s only a handful of games away from having his games-finished option vesting. An option which stands to make him $13 million next season. Earlier reports had the Phillies willing to kick some money back to the Nats in order to deal with that, which makes sense if Philly wants anything in return for him.

Politics and contracts aside, Papelbon has been fantastic this year, posting a 1.59 ERA with 40 strikeouts and eight walks over 39 2/3 innings and going 17-for-17 in save chances.

Braves sign reliever Will Smith to three-year, $39 million contract

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The Braves announced on Thursday that the club has inked lefty reliever Will Smith to a three-year, $39 million contract with a club option for the 2023 season worth $13 million. Smith received a qualifying offer worth $17.8 million from the Giants, so he opted for a lower average annual value for a longer contract.

Smith, 30, was an All-Star last season with the Giants, finishing with 34 saves, a 2.76 ERA, and a 96/21 K/BB ratio across 65 1/3 innings. Across parts of seven seasons in the majors, he has a 3.53 ERA.

Smith, the top free agent left-handed reliever, will join a strong Braves bullpen which already includes Mark Melancon, Shane Greene, and Sean Newcomb.