The Washington Nationals have officially announced that they have acquired veteran closer Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies, confirming multiple reports from throughout the day that pointed towards a deal moving Papelbon out of Philly before Friday’s trade deadline.
Jonathan Papelbon has also been guaranteed a contract for the 2016 season as part of the deal. He will also be the Nationals’ new closer, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com on Twitter. Per Rosenthal, Papelbon’s deal for the 2016 campaign will be worth $11M, $2M less than what his vesting option was worth. The 34-year old needed 14 more finished games to trigger the option, but he has instead decided to be traded to a contending team, secured the closing job and a deal in 2016.
Drew Storen, the current Nationals closer, will be demoted to the set-up role despite having a fantastic season. Storen, 28 next month, has a 1.73 ERA and 29 saves this season (3rd in league), and has struck out 44 batters in 36.1 innings pitched. The former first-rounder has done an amazing job during his 4-year career with the Nationals, but his postseason performance has the Nats not taking any risks this year.
In 2012, during the NLDS, Storen pitched in four games, totaling four innings, and allowing four runs for a 9.00 ERA. Fast forward two years to 2014, and Storen encountered yet more postseason woes, pitching in two games, one inning and a third, allowing four hits and one earned run for a 6.75 ERA. He cost the Nationals the series last year, and the organization is reluctant to put their playoffs fate in the hands of Storen.
Papelbon, on the other hand, has had a phenomenal 2015 campaign, accumulating a 1.59 ERA, and appearing in the All-Star game for the first time since he first joined the Phils back in 2012. The 11-year veteran has pitched in 18 postseason games, allowing a total of three runs in 27 innings for a 1.00 ERA. All three runs he’s allowed came in the 2009 ALDS; prior to that Papelbon had pitched 25 scoreless innings in postseason play.
The Los Angeles-native led Boston to a World Series win in 2007, pitching 10 2/3 innings of scoreless ball against the Indians, Angels, and ultimately the Rockies in the Fall Classic. The Nationals, thus, add a powerful arm, acclimated to high-pressure games and postseason action. Washington currently leads the Mets by two games in the American League East division.
In exchange, the Phillies will be receiving Double-A pitcher Nick Pivetta. Pivetta, a fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft, has a 7.20 ERA in Double-A through 15 innings and has been fighting with command issues for a number of months now.
Stay tuned as teams expect the Phillies to continue to trade high-money players, specifically lefty Cole Hamels, who’s expected to also be traded before Friday’s 4:00 p.m. deadline.