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.

MLBPA proposes 114-game season, playoff expansion to MLB

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.

Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.

If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.

Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.