Nationals place Jonathan Papelbon on the disabled list with an intercostal strain

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If it seemed odd that Nationals manager Dusty Baker used Shawn Kelley to close out Monday’s 4-1 victory against the Cubs instead of Jonathan Papelbon, there was a reason. Papelbon was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday with a strained intercostal, the club announced. The Nationals reinstated reliever Matt Belisle from the disabled list.

Papelbon struggled in his most recent appearance against the Phillies on Sunday, giving up a leadoff home run to Maikel Franco to break a 3-3 tie. However, the Nationals were able to storm for two runs in the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off win.

Thus far, Papelbon has been solid but not his usual elite self. He has registered the save in 16 of 18 attempts with a 3.28 ERA and a 19/8 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings. The 35-year-old currently holds what would be a career-low strikeout rate (18.6%) if the season were to end today. His 7.8 percent walk rate would be his highest since 2010.

The Nationals have been linked in trade rumors to the Yankees, who could make Aroldis Chapman and/or Andrew Miller available. Kelley should be reliable in the short-term, though, as he owns a 2.70 ERA with a dynamite 34/5 K/BB ratio in 23 1/3 innings this season.

Rays’ Yandy Díaz gets three-year, $24 million deal to avoid arbitration

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Díaz agreed to a three-year, $24 million contract that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

Díaz’s agreement could be worth $36 million over four seasons.

The 31-year old will receive $6 million this season, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million for 2025. The 2026 club is $12 million with no buyout. There is a $1 million assignment bonus that would be payable by receiving team.

Díaz has spent parts of six seasons in the majors with Cleveland (2017-18) and Tampa Bay (2019-22). He has a career average of .278 with 39 home runs and 198 RBIs.

Acquired by the Rays in a three-team trade on Dec. 13, 2018, Díaz hit .296 with nine homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games last season, He career highs with 71 runs, 140 hits, 33 doubles, and 78 walks.

Díaz was the third Rays’ arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks agreed Friday to a $12 million, three-year contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs also agreed last week to a $31 million, four-year contract that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year-old began last season in the bullpen and transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, and outfielder Harold Ramírez.