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UPDATED: Nats getting Papelbon for minor-leaguer Pivetta

Jul 28, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

Updated at 8:20 p.m.

For the second time in two years, the Nationals decided to bolster their bullpen by acquiring an experienced closer who likely will bump Drew Storen from his once-secure role pitching the ninth inning.

The Nationals and Phillies have finalized a trade that will bring Jonathan Papelbon to D.C., the team announced on Tuesday night, a move that significantly improves a bullpen that has seen plenty of turnover and inconsistent performances this season but again leaves Storen in an awkward position.

In exchange for Papelbon and cash considerations, the Phillies will receive minor-league right-hander Nick Pivetta, one of the Nationals’ second-tier pitching prospects who broke out at Class A Potomac this season before earning a recent promotion to Class AA Harrisburg. The Nationals designated catcher Dan Butler for assignment to make room for Papelbon on the 40-man roster.

Papelbon was one of several high-profile closers the Nationals inquired about this week, with Friday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline approaching and a clear need to add an experienced reliever to the mix. Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman and San Diego’s Craig Kimbrel also were discussed, but ultimately the asking price proved too much for general manager Mike Rizzo’s liking.

Not that the Papelbon deal was easy to complete. The 34-year-old had a no-trade clause that would have allowed him to block a move to Washington. He also had a $13 million option for 2016 that would automatically vest if he finishes 14 more games this season. With that in mind, he made it clear earlier this week he would not accept a trade to any club that wouldn’t use him as its closer.

Nationals executives spoke to Papelbon and/or his representatives in the last 24 hours to discuss his potential role and convince him to waive his no-trade rights, according to sources. The two sides reached agreement Tuesday late afternoon, with Papelbon ultimately waiving the no-trade clause and accepting a $2 million pay cut in exchange for the Nats picking up his 2016 option, which now will be worth $11 million, according to

Papelbon’s track record is as solid as it gets. He owns a 1.59 ERA and 17 saves in 17 tries this season, with fewer runners reaching base against him than previously in his career. He also has a strong postseason resume, having posted a 1.00 ERA in 18 career October appearances and seven saves in nine attempts, all with the Red Sox. He was a perfect 4-for-4 closing games in the 2007 World Series, the last man standing on the mound when Boston clinched the second of its three recent titles.

How this deal impacts Storen remains to be seen. The Nationals’ closer for much of 2011-12, he lost his job the following year when Rizzo signed veteran Rafael Soriano to a 2-year contract and wound up struggling so much he was demoted to Class AAA in midsummer.

Storen has bounced back from that demotion, though, and blossomed into one of the majors’ best relievers since, with a 1.37 ERA and 41 saves in 46 attempts over the last two calendar years.

Now, the homegrown closer may find himself bumped into a setup role once again after the Nationals surprisingly acquired a veteran.

138 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. rlndtln - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:23 PM

    Meija suspended 162 games drugs.

    • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:29 PM

      Just seeing that on Twitter. Clip better perform for them… He certainly shot off his mouth. I didn’t like that, and you know how much I was a Clippard fan.

      • virginiascopist - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:32 PM

        “Clip better perform for them”

        Those New York fans/media types can be brutal. And now there’s more pressure on Clip. What did he say?

      • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:33 PM

        Said he was looking forward to pitching against the Nats, and “They’re beatable.”

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:35 PM

        Did he really say that? Bwahahaha… cool. Poster board material.

        Never was a fan of his…. look forward to the match ups.

      • coop202 - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:45 PM

        Have to read the whole quote. Goes something along the lines of coming into the year they looked unbeatable, but every team has ups and downs. I think our rotation could be just as good, I think we can beat them. I hope they don’t, but nothing ego driven. I will always cheer for those who gave their all to the nats.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:47 PM

        Also compared the Mets rotation to the Nats and said the Mets might be better

      • Nats Fan Zee - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:26 PM

        I don’t think he shot his mouth off. He said we were beatable … we are. He said “There’s a lot of incentive for me on a personal and professional level to get the job done here in New York.”. there is.

        Clip was outspoken when Drew got demoted … then, he got traded and his best friend is again demoted …. inventive enough ya think?

        From house of cards “don’t step on a pissed off rattle snake” ….

    • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:09 PM

      Meija suspended 162 games drugs.

      Wow. Which means getting Clip doesn’t improve the team at all — it just keeps them even. (Mejia has been pitching lights out, actually — although only for seven games)

  2. NatsLady - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:25 PM

    From all outward appearances, an unlikeable character. But that’s what we thought about Yunel Escobar too, before he got here.

    • virginiascopist - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:30 PM

      Knowing Rizzo, I’m sure he did his due diligence on Papelbon.

    • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:13 PM

      Some of us thought that — wrongly, as it turned out, IMO.

      Papelbon is QED a jackass. I hope he strikes out everybody he faces for the Nats, but I don’t have to like the guy.

  3. mauimo22 - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:25 PM

    Isn’t it all about getting W’s for the Nats? Time for everyone to check egos at the door and man-up.
    Whatever role, whichever inning, get ’em out!


  4. rlndtln - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:26 PM

    Papelbon is a jerk.As I said the guys we wanted to offer for Chapman and Kimbrel did not do it.So this is who we get and you guys said to demote Storen for Kimbrel and Chapman was not an upgrade.This is an up grade to upset Drew.Like to hear from you guys.

    • Danny - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:31 PM

      You do realize Rizzo isn’t going to gut the system for any reliever. He isn’t a dummy. We just got a great bang for the buck in terms of prospect we gave up for performance.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:40 PM

      Can we just cut to the chase, and speculate about who will be in the Hall of Fame in 20 years, and whether the Nats would be better off building a time machine and trading for an in-his-prime Mariano Rivera?

      Because we all know that’s where this is headed with you.

      • catcher50 - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:14 PM

        No time machine needed, we already got Mariano Rivera.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 28, 2015 at 11:29 PM

        Yes, but is he in his prime?

    • therealjohnc - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:07 PM

      In terms of obtaining ability at the price, I think that this is a better deal than the Mets got. The Nats paid less in terms of talent, got more, and will also have Papelbon next season at a reduced rate. No matter how you slice it the bullpen is better; I think this means that Barrett is heading back to AAA (although it might be Solis heading back to AAA).

      I just don’t like the guy. But the Nats have had bad attitude players on the team before (LoDuca, Dukes, Milledge, Felipe Lopez, etc) and I still rooted for the team. Same thing here.

  5. Danny - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:29 PM

    Good move imo. Love that we kept Voth and it seems we got Papa to cut some money.

    Agree it’s about wins at this point. The BP is deeper finally with Storen in the 8th. Hopefully, Paps performs

    And we didn’t have to give up much at all compared to a Kimbrel/Chapman deal.

  6. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:34 PM

    Not a huge fan… but he is here. I actually feel bad for Drew in this…

    Nats needed BP help… so it is what it is.

    • natslive - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:47 PM

      I am with you. Hopefully he will perform well for the Nats and I will root for the good results but not him personally as I think he’s a jerk. I do feel bad for Drew as he’s performed well this year. Don’t think we gave up too much as think Pivetta was 12 on the prospect list but we liked what we saw him pitch several times at Hagerstown last year.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:50 PM

        I’m absolutely glad we didn’t give up a lot for Pap.. I would have been okay with giving up more for Chapman though… 😆😆😆

  7. ballgrindM - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:35 PM

    I love the Nats and I understand that sports is a business but…. wow… this appalls me. It simply isn’t right, the Nats jerking Storen around like this for the last two years. It was bad enough after 2012, he blows one save after having a great year and they sign a veteran to replace him instead of standing by a young guy, but this is plain ridiculous. Like Mark noted, the guy has a 1.37 ERA in the last year, he’s been one of the best closers in baseball this year, he’s done nothing whatsoever to deserve this. He gave up a dinky single to Posey and a base hit to one of the best clutch hitters in baseball (Sandoval), so what? That was 10 months ago and he’s been, arguably, the best closer in baseball since then. If I’m Drew Storen I feel zero loyalty whatsoever to a club that has shown none to me, and I’m skipping town first chance I get. This is the type of move that discourages other players from signing with the Nats, who wants to play for a team that doesn’t care about them and treats them like crap. Maybe this is an overreaction, but for me, this is one of those days where it’s hard to be a Nats fan

    • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:41 PM

      Oh, I 100% expect Storen to be traded after this season. He’ll get a closer’s job. And the better he pitches the more he will make in arbitration, so there’s no incentive for him to sulk. It’s two, hopefully, three months. Who here hasn’t had a tough job situation that they had to live through for a few months?

      • ballgrindM - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:53 PM

        NL- I don’t know if I feel bad for Storen- he’s getting paid millions of dollars to play baseball after all- just that I’d be pissed if I were him, and I’m a bit ashamed to support a team who would do this, but me and Drew will both get over it, especially if it helps us win a WS.

    • Karl Kolchak - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:42 PM

      I say what I am about to say as someone who was surprised Drew wasn’t traded last offseason: the bottom line is that Papelbon has given up exactly 3 runs in 27 postseason innings, while Drew was directly responsible for the two biggest losses in franchise history. With their impending free agency losses, the Nats are in it to win it this year, and this trade gives them the best chance to do that without mortgaging the future.

      Drew graduated from Stanford–he’s a bright enough guy to know that this isn’t personal, just business.

      • ballgrindM - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:46 PM

        I disagree with him being directly for responsible for any loss. If you remember in 2012, Gio, Clippard and others had let the Cardinals cut the lead from6-0 to 7-5 BEFORE Storen even warmed up. There were also some questionable calls in that ninth inning as well. In 2014, I blame Matt Williams. He shouldn’t have pulled Zim, and he shouldn’t have put Storen in the middle of an inning. yes, Storen has to execute, but he pretty much did execute to Posey, he jammed him up, the ball just blooped in for a hit. Then Sandoval hit a shot yes, but he’s one of the best clutch hitters in baseball. Drew choked for sure, in both games, but to put the blame solely on him is inaccurate

      • Karl Kolchak - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:56 PM

        None of that changes the fact that Drew didn’t get the job done at the two biggest moments in his career. Had he done so, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

      • ballgrindM - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:04 PM

        Actually, he did get the job done in two of the other biggest moments of his career, saving games 1 and 4 of the 2012 series, both 1-2-3 innings. Maybe he’s not such a choker…

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:20 PM

        Just saying.

    • senators69 - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:46 PM

      Like you, I feel for Drew IF Papelbon is handed the closer role as discussed. I’d feel better of they share it. As part of the deal, Nats could vest money if Pap falls short on his performance hurdles because of the sharing.

      If Drew is now 100% pushed out of the closer role, then, while I recognize the value, it’s still hard to swallow.

      Love the fact that we did not have to give up a prime prospect.

      • ballgrindM - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:50 PM

        Agreed, it’s a great value, and will make our team better- assuming Drew (or Papelbon) has matured enough to succeed in an 8th inning role, which isn’t necessarily a guarantee if you remember Drew’s 2013 struggles

    • Nats Fan Zee - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:27 PM

      I agree. Drew got screwed again.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:34 PM

        Screwed? Screwed is the guy who lives paycheck to paycheck who gets laid off because the company wasn’t hitting quota but was a model employee and was just caught up in a numbers game. Screwed is someone who lives right and gets pancreatic cancer.

        Get a clue.

      • Nats Fan Zee - Jul 29, 2015 at 5:19 PM

        screwed is also performing at the highest level possible and being “shat” upon not once, but twice. Don’t confuse live events (my family has experienced both your hypo’s and I have been that guy in the past). In spite of what you think of yourself, you don’t know everything. Get a clue? Do yourself a favor and stop slapping yourself on the back so often …. your chest is becoming concave.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2015 at 5:25 PM

        They play baseball, not saving lives. I love the game but so sick of the constant whining. The reason I wanted Chapman was because he would’ve been the best fit and allowed the closer to close based on matchups because I envisioned just this scenario if it was Papelbon or Kimbrel.

        Come up with something original and we will all pat you on the back. I work harder then many who get paid to bring in the news.

        Should I pat myself for saying Solis would be sent back?

  8. belaurel - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:36 PM

    Storen was given 2 chances to close out during 2 postseasons and he failed. I guess Rizzo did not want to find out if the third time was the charm. Of course this assumes that the Nats will make it to the PS. I still think Rizzo hasn’t addressed our other elephant which is hitting. As much as I would like to tell myself that the return of Jayson, Rendon, and RZimm will fix all of our hitting woes, it’s just not going to happen. Rendon absolutely he will hit. Werth not so much and RZimm not at all.

  9. Drew - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:39 PM

    It helps the team at a reasonable cost.

    The Nats greatly improve their weakest link without giving up Voth, Cole, Ross or Difo.

    They get Papelbon for 2016 as well.
    They can now use Janssen in the 7th and send Barrett to the Cuse.

  10. deftndumb - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:39 PM

    Seems like a decent move to me. Pivetta was expendable. And as to the “jerk” thing, he’s only a jerk if he’s not on your team. Look at how non-Nats fans view Harper.

    • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:42 PM

      Well, he is (or has been a jerk), consider he got suspended for the crotch grab when fans were booing him. Reportedly, however, he’s not a jerk to his teammates, and is helpful with the younger pitchers.

  11. kirbs3256 - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:42 PM

    I love this if Papelbon is here for the 8th. Hate it if he is here for the 9th. Can one of the stat people PLEASE pull something to show me that Papelbon is much better than Drew?

    • NatsLady - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:44 PM

      He’s here for the 9th. It’s in his contract. Not saying he’s “better” than Drew, but the team is better with both, and if Papelbon were to pitch the 8th he would lose $13 million.

      • senators69 - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:48 PM

        Nats could address the shortfall if the did more 8th inning.

      • Karl Kolchak - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:48 PM

        Absolutely, he’s here for the 9th, and yes, he’s better than Drew. He’s got the 342 career saves, 7 postseason saves and a WS ring to prove it. I always liked Drew, but I was at Nats park for both playoff meltdowns and do not want to even leave a stadium feeling that way again.

      • natsfan1a - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:48 PM

        Okay, Nats fans, time to start passing the hat. Kidding. Sort of.

        ” if Papelbon were to pitch the 8th he would lose $13 million.”

      • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:10 PM

        He’s here for the 9th. It’s in his contract.

        Looks like he has a new contract, however. So, “finishing games” for him is not relevant to his salary anymore.

      • nattyboh - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:31 PM

        It’s not “in his contract” and he won’t lose anything if he doesn’t close since we already picked up his option for 11M instead of 13. He essentially bought out the risk of not getting the option for 2 million.

  12. rlndtln - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:42 PM

    Hiram.What happened to this guy is not as good as Drew.You guys did not want to see Drew taken out for Hall of Famers.For Drew to be replaced by a jerk should really bother you.lets here it.

    • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:55 PM

      Get perspective — nobody here was against getting Kimbrel — they were against your proposal of trading Ross for Kimbrel.

      Do you really still think that Ross for Kimbrel is a better trade than Pivetta for Papelbon?

      The odds of Ross being a solid pitcher for the Nats is much much higher than Pivetta. C’mon.

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:07 PM

      I think they should have Drew play second base now to keep Escobar at third.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:10 PM

      You really don’t pay attention, do you?

      Everyone (well, I and most people) agreed that adding an elite arm to the BP would make it stronger. The question was always what it would cost, and whether that was worth it to the Nats.

      Pap isn’t as good as Kimbrel and Chapman and didn’t cost as much.

  13. adcwonk - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:50 PM

    Some of you guys: get a grip.

    Every single one of us agreed that the BP needed help. And now we got Papelbon for Pivetta.

    The bigger picture isn’t that Storen is getting “replaced” — it’s that we have added a great arm to the BP. It doesn’t matter (for us fans, anyway) who pitches the 8th and who pitches the 9th.

    The fact is: if we have both of them, it makes for a stronger BP, right?

    • Karl Kolchak - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:52 PM

      Yep, substantially–and that’s all that really matters.

    • letswin3 - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:45 PM

      Wonk, you are spot on. The major league Nat’s lost absolutely nothing (Pivetta is a minor leaguer), while ADDING a back of the bullpen guy who has a sterling record in post-season play. Think about the last few weeks of watching at least 3 guys trying to fill that 8th inning spot, and then compare what it will be like with Storen penciled into that 8th inning. The Nats are a better team today than they were yesterday.

    • senators5 - Jul 29, 2015 at 12:09 PM

      Agreed. The most important factor for all pros regardless of their sport is MOTIVATION to keep their position. Let Storen say all he wants in the press but and then he should go out and prove Rizzo was wrong by his actions not his or anybody else’s words.

  14. Joe Seamhead - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:50 PM

    As to Drew’s hurt feelings? How do you know that Rizzo didn’t discuss this with him? Drew is a great set up 8th inning guy. I still like him in that role. If he accepts this move as a player that wants his team to win then this will be a great move.

    In Rizzo We Trust


    Welcome back JW and RZimm!

  15. joemktg - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:51 PM

    The game just shrunk by an inning, and if Roark can perform in the 7th, this is huge.

    This is a business, and if Drew’s feelings are hurt, he can hopefully console himself with the $5.7MM in salary, with arbitration and free agency around the corner.

    “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:08 PM

      The 7th won’t belong to Roark now, it will belong to Janssen.

    • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:22 PM

      “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”

      In fairness, that quote is from a homicidal sociopath.

      • joemktg - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:44 PM

        Not at that point. When he ordered Mo Green and the others taken out, then Carlo, that’s when Michael drifted into the homicidal sociopathic arena.

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:53 PM

        I stand corrected. :-/

  16. TheBigDummy - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:52 PM

    Won’t matter unless we can find a way to score consistently enough to actually use him. Hope the injured guys come back strong.

  17. adcwonk - Jul 28, 2015 at 6:53 PM

    And, fwiw —

    WHIP this year so far:

    Papelbon: 0.983
    Storen: 1.018
    Kimbrel: 1.119
    Chapman: 1.248

    • Karl Kolchak - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:02 PM

      You think it would make everyone ecstatic that the Nats not only trumped the Mets’ acquisition of Clippard, but now have one of the best one-two BP punches in baseball–and did so while only losing a guy who will likely end up as a relief pitcher himself in the long run.

      • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:05 PM

        Well put! Yeah — no comparison between Papelbon and Clip these days.

        One moral of the story: never, ever, ever, play poker with Rizzo 😉

      • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:06 PM

        And Mets must be wondering how in the heck that happened!

      • dcwx61 - Jul 28, 2015 at 11:29 PM

        yes…because you don’t want to get burns … burnt

  18. senators69 - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:00 PM

    Mets lose Mejia due to drugs but gain Clip.
    Nats gain Pap.
    Seems like the Nats win the “arms” race changes.

    Mets add a couple of bats.
    Nats get 4 starting bats back now/soon.
    Nats win “bats” race changes.

    End of season standings?…probably Nats on top, but depends…

  19. soonernat - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:02 PM

    ” The 34-year-old had a no-trade clause that would have allowed him to block a move to Washington. He also has a $13 million option for 2016 that automatically vests if he finishes 14 more games this season. With that in mind, he made it clear earlier this week he would not accept a trade to any club that wouldn’t use him as its closer.”

    Here is how I read this…Papelbon needed to be a closer and finish games to vest his option for next year. I suspect the Nats have offered to extend him now so that he doesn’t worry about vesting and then I expect Papelbon to suddenly be open to the idea of becoming a setup man. I also didn’t realize he was 34. It will be interesting to see the financial numbers they agreed to. I can see a two year extension at less than $13 million per…

    • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:12 PM

      Here is how I read this…Papelbon needed to be a closer and finish games to vest his option for next year. I suspect the Nats have offered to extend him now so that he doesn’t worry about vesting and then I expect Papelbon to suddenly be open to the idea of becoming a setup man.

      I think that’s exactly right.

      Not to say Pap is not going to close — but that the salary part is now not part of the equation. It’s now only: what’s the best chance for the team?

      • soonernat - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:20 PM

        I’d love him in the 8th and Drew closing…no reason to move Drew…but now you do have the option mixing things up!

      • adcwonk - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:24 PM

        but now you do have the option mixing things up!

        great situation for us

  20. zmunchkin - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:05 PM

    Reposting as I mistakenly posted this in a blog from earlier today (that most folks are no longer looking at).

    So another question is who gets dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Papelbon?

    • DaveB - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:13 PM

      My guess would be Erik Davis, but it’s possible that David Carpenter needs to go on the 60-day DL

  21. scnatsfan - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:20 PM

    Let’s get this straight – it’s all about winning. I hate it for Drew but this makes us better and give up none of our prize youngsters. I’m sure Rizzo did his due diligence on the jerk and made the move; as long as we are winning he will be just fine.

    • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:31 PM

      It’s all about winning for the ballclub. And that is, rightly, Rizzo’s priority. But I am not so restricted.

  22. Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:26 PM

    Of course, it’s also possible Rizzo didn’t do this deal and then book a flight to Hawaii. He might well not be finished.

    Papelbon cost him so little, relatively, that this leaves them just as able to get Kimbrel or somebody else as they were before, but less needy in the process. Which is how Rizzo likes to roll.

  23. IsawTeddywin - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:27 PM

    The last time Papelbon pitched a playoff game, he blew a two run lead. He’s obviously very good, but not that much better than Storen.
    I hate this for Drew.
    About like getting Trout and telling Harper, you’re now batting 8th

    • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:30 PM

      More like getting Puig, and telling Harper “You’re now batting fifth.”

    • Karl Kolchak - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:33 PM

      And before THAT Papelbon pitched 26 career postseason innings without giving up a run while saving 7 games. Meanwhile, Drew’s career postseason ERA is 8.44. Not only does Papelbon have a better postseason track record, they aren’t even in the same ballpark.

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:43 PM

        One of the things I like about the Cult of the Closer is that gunfighter mentality. Mo was my favorite example; he could have played Chris in The Magnificent Seven. But there’s always somebody faster, and there’s no job security beyond what somebody thinks you can do for them.

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:45 PM

        That would be a great name for a bullpen, btw, if nobody’s used it already.

  24. Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:28 PM

    But what I’m really wondering is this: What, nobody offered Philadelphia anything better than Pivetta in all this time?? I find that hard to believe.

    • Karl Kolchak - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:38 PM

      Money. Papelbon was owed about $5 million more for this year and $13 million for next year (which the Nats reduced to $11 million by guaranteeing the option). The simple fact is that highly paid relievers don’t bring much in return in midseason deals unless the trading team is willing to eat all or most of the salary (which is also why if I were a GM I’d never offer a deal longer than two years to a veteran closer, no matter how good they are).

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:40 PM

        Which is why the smart money says not to spend a lot chasing saves.

  25. Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:36 PM

    So, perspective, I am advised. Fair enough.

    This isn’t like getting Elijah Dukes, who did a lot worse things than “pulling his groin,” so to speak. I hated that move, but once it’s made, you have to root for the guy to quit being like that, because the alternative is to not care that he’s a jerk, or actively hope that he continues to be a jerk, both of which make no sense.

    It’s going to be hard to work up much enthusiasm for this move, though, for me.

    • Karl Kolchak - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:39 PM

      If we can put up with a guy who placed lives at risk by driving 112 MPH on the Beltway, we can put up with Papelbon.

  26. Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:39 PM

    Or, as someone once said about Denny McLain, “Winning 31 games doesn’t mean you’re a decent human being.”

  27. npb99 - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:41 PM

    I like this deal. We got a very good reliever for a minor leageuer I never heard of (I know many of you have, but still, this is not one of our prize prospects as far as I know).
    And let’s drop the sentimentality re Drew. I like the guy, but if this helps the team, that’s all that matters.

    • Karl Kolchak - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:53 PM

      Pivetta is–as they say–a project. He’s got a big arm and a good fastball, but questionable control. There’s always the chance that “the light could go on” and he could figure things out and become a very good pitcher–which is why teams make deals like this. Think Rizzo getting Roark for Cristian Guzman. More likely though, a guy with his control issues ends up as a middle reliever at best.

  28. rlndtln - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:42 PM

    No problem a jerk replaces Drew.

  29. manassasnatsfan - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:42 PM

    It is an improvement, but I believe Zieglar filled our need.

    Come to think of it Zieglar is still available.

    • rlndtln - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:46 PM

      How can you guys favor replacing Drew with an inferior pitcher.No feelings now for Drew.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:56 PM

        I want Palpabon for the 8th inning.

      • IsawTeddywin - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:58 PM

        I don’t like it, but he’s not an inferior pitcher. He does beat Drew in multiple stats.

      • Karl Kolchak - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:01 PM

        Because Papelbon is NOT an inferior pitcher to Drew. He’s a 6-time All Star with 342 career saves, 7 postseason saves and a World Series ring. His career ERA is a half run lower, his career WHIP is lower, his career BB rate is lower and his career strikeout rate is higher. Papelbon is a superior pitcher in every way that you measure relief pitchers.

    • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 28, 2015 at 7:59 PM

      Of the several things that amaze me, why people keep trying to explain things rationally to someone who shows no response to reason, and of those I don’t understand, why people keep posting in here when they aren’t listening and are plainly not welcomed.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:25 PM

        + 1 section 8

  30. Section 222 - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:01 PM

    I guess I’m not surprised, but I can’t believe all the boo-hooing for Drew. Do you care about the team or the “feelings” of a guy who makes millions of dollars a year playing a game? And the only question for Drew is “do you want a ring?” If the answer is yes, and I believe it is, then you swallow your pride and do your very best to help the team win games, whether you’re pitching the 8th or the 9th.

    The question is not whether you prefer JP or Drew in the 9th, but whether you prefer Drew or Jannsen/Thorton/Carpenter/Barrett (oy!) in the 8th. That’s so easy for me it’s not even funny.

    Besides, I’d like to think that Drew is a little more mature and self-confident than he was in 2013. Older and wiser and all that. I think he’ll be fine. And we now may have the best back of the bullpen combination in the majors — including the Royals.

    The icing on the cake is that we didn’t give up much to get Papelbon and it’s not even a rental. I follow the team pretty closely, and I honestly had never heard of Nick Pivetta. Maybe he’ll end up having a big league career, and maybe not. But considering the names that were being tossed around as possible trade bait, I’d call this an absolutely brilliant move. Try this thought experiment- what would you be saying if we had traded Joe Ross or Wilmer Difo, or maybe even both, for Chapman or Kimbrel? I like this deal sooooo much better.

    • zmunchkin - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:07 PM


    • npb99 - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:08 PM

      Agree 100% on all points. Once again, Rizzo does his thing.
      And I’m glad to see he is not driven by sentimentality.

    • Karl Kolchak - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:20 PM

      Absolutely. I was worried that they were going to lose both Voth and Difo at a minimum for Chapman.

      I follow the system pretty closely. Pivetta pitched his way into this deal by being very good at Potomac this season, but as soon as he got bumped up to AA his career long control problems really jumped up to bite him. He may well not even make it to the majors. Three years ago, Rizzo traded the much more highly regarded Alex Meyer, who had similar control issues, to the Twins for Denard Span and he still has yet to make an impact at the MLB level.

      Rizzo has proven time and again that trading is his biggest strength as a GM. To me it looks like he pulled off yet another heist, and we Nats fans should be celebrating accordingly.

      • Section 222 - Jul 28, 2015 at 11:07 PM

        Thanks for the insight on the farm system. And good point on Meyer. Add him to Karns and Ray as guys who may turn out to be good, but aren’t missed.

        In the early days, Bowden drafted pitchers who were highly touted, at least by Bowden, but never did much, and he kept them too long to get anything for them. Rizzo seems to be an excellent judge of talent, and a sense of the long term pipeline that allows him to deal young pitchers for value without hurting the team in the long run.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:37 PM

      I think that this was the best post that I have read regarding the trade. Thanks, Deuces.

      • Section 222 - Jul 28, 2015 at 9:19 PM

        Thanks Joe. Giving credit where credit is due, you and Karl and wonk made similar and excellent points earlier in the thread. I really think that we are markedly better team tonight than we were yesterday. And that’s even if you think, as I do, that Drew will be fine in the postseason this time around. I’m a happy camper.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:15 PM

      I’m not boo-hooing for Drew. I don’t like Papelbon, I’ve never liked Papelbon. It’s more fun to root for a team without obvious [jerks], but it’s not like the Nats haven’t had their share of [jerks] in the past.

      • Section 222 - Jul 28, 2015 at 11:02 PM

        I don’t like him either. And I don’t like the last two teams he played for, which may be part of it. But I may come to like him if he’s as lights out for us as he’s been for the Phillies this year. It’s performance that counts for me, and I think for you too.

  31. ehay2k - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:12 PM

    A little early for any of us to lament the “impact” on Drew. They need to play a few games first. I have to beleive that Papelbon agreed to be the setup guy, at least occasionally, in return for guaranteeing his option. The Philthies may not have 14 more opportunities this year for him. Plus, they can just not play him to cut his contract out. So he had to realize that playing for a contender with a guaranteed $11M next year is better than playing out the year for a loser and maybe seeing no payday either.

    But, these guys are pros. They get paid and are played according to how well they perform in the eyes of managment, so regardless of Drew’s numbers, if Rizzo and MW think John Lannan is a better option as closer, Drew has no choice, no matter how he or anyone else feels about it.

    The only thing I am sure of, even now, about this trade is that we don’t appear to have given up much.


    (Also, watching the game and the Nats are seeing a lot of pitches from Fernandez. I like that plan. Seems like we did the same thing to Harvey.)

  32. rlndtln - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:12 PM

    This is unbelievable.Papelbon is better than Drew but Kimbrel was not.You guys are may want Papelbon to pitch the 8th but he will pitch the 9th.Just throw Drew under the bus for this jerk.

  33. veejh - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:18 PM

    What 222 said. We gave up nothing for the best WHIP closer in baseball right now (at least on the block). Excellent. The future is secure.

  34. whatsanattau - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:19 PM

    Who is Paplebon’s agent? (It’s not, … no, it couldn’t be).
    What’s his walkup song?
    I’ll root for Paps whether he sets up or closes. Thanks to the Lerner’s and Rizzo.

    • veejh - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:20 PM

      Pretty sure he’s the closer. That was a stip in his trade clause, or something like that.

  35. veejh - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:23 PM

    bad luck for JDub. Get em next time.

  36. Pete "Hit 'n Run" Wood - Jul 28, 2015 at 8:46 PM

    Boy the Phillies really wanted rid of Papel-jerk didn’t they! He will poison the Nats clubhouse as he has everywhere he has been. I’m shocked and disgusted with Rizzo. This is his worst trade ever.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:21 PM

      Nope. Worst trade* ever was the Red Sox giving up Babe Ruth.

      *Okay, technically they sold his contract, but in baseball terms that’s essentially the same thing.

      • Section 222 - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:59 PM

        Haha. He actually said “HIS worst trade ever,” but your retort is still funny. Hard to say what Rizzo’s worst trade was. We mostly remember the good ones. Time will tell on this one, but it’s hard to see it being a bad trade given what we gave up. Of course, Papelbon could collapse like Sori did in the second half last year. Seems unlikely, but could happen.

  37. Road Apples - Jul 28, 2015 at 9:01 PM

    Papelbon: Very good talent.
    It is a simple game plan:
    Keep your mouth shut.
    Pitch whatever innings your Coaches tell you.
    Collect your paycheck.

  38. Gardner - Jul 28, 2015 at 9:06 PM

    Oh no – our new closer isn’t a good clubhouse guy…closers don’t sit in the clubhouse. I like my closers unlikable and unhittable.

    • veejh - Jul 28, 2015 at 9:08 PM


  39. xbonat - Jul 28, 2015 at 9:19 PM

    I just want to win and I’m sure everyone on the Nats do too….wins and high fives will help anyone with some hurt feelings.

  40. topnat - Jul 28, 2015 at 9:32 PM

    Stats say storen is a good closer. History says pap is better by a ring. Eye test says storen is an elite set up man. FP says Storens performance has nothing to do with this move, the rest of the bull pen performance does. I say I agree. If storens performance suffers because of this trade then he’s not the guy I want with ball with the season on the line.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:17 PM

      That’s probably even more true but come October when Storen’s heart rate picks up it won’t be to close. Rizzo could have gone for Benoit and that’s it but this gives you a closer that pushes Storen back to setup and that strengthens the entire back of the bullpen where you can go matchup in the 7th and 6th innings.

      The bullpen has been a weakness in the front and middle of the bullpen.

      • topnat - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:23 PM

        Agree Ghost. I have never been one to really care what an entertainer

      • topnat - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:29 PM

        Sorry. What I was saying is I don’t care what a player says or does to make him a jerk in others eyes. Short of a personal attack it’s none of my business. Let’s not forget Esco was lambasted for an incident that labeled him something worse than a jerk and he is now beloved here. Quite frankly a if Pap is a jerk on the mound I’m all for the edge it gives the Nats

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:36 PM

        Exactly. You hate him when he pitches against you. I felt the same way about when the Redskins got Desean Jackson and if he helps my team win I’m all for it. Also came from Phooladelphia.

      • topnat - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:59 PM

        It’s been my contention since the Nats have been competitive that there has been a lack of the ”edge” that seems to matter when stakes are highest. People like Pap use that edge to excel. I had the ear of a few Skins back in the glory days and to a man they considered Theisman a self centered jerk. But to a man they also told me he was all about winning on game day and they loved playing ball with him. Pap has to get three outs in whatever inning he pitches, not be the center of a love fest.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 29, 2015 at 7:00 AM

        Dexter Manley

  41. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:07 PM

    Ask Giles on the Phillies how Papelbon helped him to get better.

    To me, this was more about the Phillies getting younger and shedding salary. I’m not going to say this was a Freebie like signing Thornton was a pure salary dump but Pivetta was far back on the prospect list.

    Nats didn’t give away Difo or Fedde or Voth or Treinen or Barrett.

    With any luck Papelbon will be a mentor to Storen, Treinen, Barrett and Rivero.

  42. coop202 - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:18 PM

    Did I really get flagged?

    • Tyler Babip - Jul 28, 2015 at 11:47 PM

      the report comment button is a huge stinkin’ target, i bet most of us have accidentally hit it before… i know i have.

  43. Nats Fan Zee - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:24 PM

    I’m in AC & was playing cards with two Philly fans who I guess were in their early 60’s. They said they have a young guy who will replace Pap. They also said “his best days are in the past. Jet ain’t that good anymore”. One is a STH who is pissed that they have sold out the team.

    Just reporting folks

    • Section 222 - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:54 PM

      Interesting report. They do have Giles. They won’t miss Papelbon that much, in part because they’re not ahead in the 9th all that much.

      It’s probably true that his best days are in the past, but he’s still pretty darn good.

  44. Eugene in Oregon - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:36 PM

    I’m just seeing this story — and the acompanying comments — after driving across NC and TN for most of the day. As best I can tell, the real question we should be asking is: Will a Nats bullpen with both Mr. Papelbon and Mr. Storen (even a pissed-off Mr. Storen) be a better bullpen than what the Nats have been fielding? I don’t see how anyone can answer anything other than ‘yes, absolutely’ to that question.

    • Section 222 - Jul 28, 2015 at 10:55 PM

      Yup. That’s the question. And I agree with your answer. Our bullpen just went from a weakness to a strength.

      • senators5 - Jul 28, 2015 at 11:08 PM

        All this talk about set up versus closer, team player versus jerk is irrelevant until we get an offense that can actually get us ahead in the latter innings. The O was VERY disappointing. once again tonight.





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