Mike Rizzo is talking as if Jonathan Papelbon will be on the Nationals in 2016

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It’s well known that the Nationals have been trying to trade Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen this offseason. The club found a match for Storen with the Blue Jays on Friday, acquiring outfielder Ben Revere in return, but where does this leave Papelbon?

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was asked that question in a conference call this afternoon. While he didn’t dismiss the possibility of a trade, he indicated that they are planning on having Papelbon in their bullpen in 2016.

Here’s the quote from Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com:

“We make baseball trades. If there’s a baseball trade out there, then we’ll make it. We see Papelbon as being one of our late-inning relievers. He’s been very effective at it his entire career, including last year except for the last portion of the season. This guy is a quality reliever, quality closer. He’s been in the biggest stage that you can be in. He pitched the last out of a World Series game and has a World Series ring. He knows how to win. He brings a swagger to the bullpen and he’s a guy that we’re going to rely on to pitch late and leverage innings.”

It’s not like Rizzo is going to say bad things about someone he’s trying to move, but trading Papelbon has always been easier said than done. In addition to his reputation, he’s owed $11 million in 2016 and has a 17-team no-trade list.

There’s also the question of what the Nationals would do with the back-end of their bullpen if they trade Papelbon. With Storen gone, the internal options include the likes of Felipe Rivero, Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, Trevor Gott, Yusmeiro Petit, and Oliver Perez. There aren’t many proven options remaining in free agency outside of Tyler Clippard or Antonio Bastardo, so they might just be forced to embrace the awkwardness and keep Papelbon around.

While Papelbon’s 2015 ended in ugly fashion after choking teammate Bryce Harper, the 35-year-old had a 2.13 ERA and 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Padres fire Andy Green

Andy Green
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The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.

Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:

I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.

In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.

“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”

Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.

For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.