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.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).