Nationals release RHP Jonathan Papelbon … Cubs, Red Sox viewed as possible destinations for the veteran reliever
News surfaced early Saturday morning the Nationals were on the verge of releasing veteran closer Jonathan Papelbon. Jerry Crasnick reported the two sides were negotiating the terms under which Papelbon would be released. The Nationals made it official right around the time Addison Russell hit a two-run homer in the second inning of Saturday’s game with the Cardinals that Papelbon had been released.
Given the state of the bullpen and the history Papelbon has with the front office, Jon Lester and David Ross, plus the fact they tried to acquire him last summer, an immediate connection to the Cubs was made.
The Nationals did not designate Papelbon for assignment. Papelbon was informed Friday, according to Bill Ladson, that he was going to be DFA’d. Papelbon’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, asked Mike Rizzo to just release him. The two sides worked out the details and the Nationals outright released him, cutting ties with the controversial closer. The Nationals and Phillies owe him the remainder of his $11 million salary for this season which includes the $3 million that was deferred until 2017.
Jonathan Papelbon is a free agent and can sign with any of the other 28 teams.
According to Rob Bradford, Papelbon wants to pitch for a contender and to sign with the team that gives him the “best spot to succeed for the remainder of the season.” It’s unknown at this point if Papelbon would only sign with a team that guaranteed him a job as the closer or not. It’s highly doubtful that Papelbon would demand a closer’s job considering the way he pitched for the Nationals on the way out the door.
Rob Bradford also learned that he would welcome a return to Boston. And when asked about the possibility of signing Papelbon, Dave Dombrowski told Nick Cafardo, “At this point, it worth investigating.”
Bruce Levine reported with the current state of the pen, the Cubs could consider signing Jonathan Papelbon.
During his post-game press conference Saturday, Joe Maddon admitted to Bruce Levine that he “would not be surprised at all” if the front office added players before the end of the month. And Jed Hoyer acknowledged earlier in the day the front office is always exploring ways to improve the roster.
Papelbon was effective out of the Nationals pen until the third week of July. Papelbon allowed nine runs, all earned, on 26 hits with eight walks and 27 strikeouts in his first 29 games (2.83 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) while holding teams to a .663 OPS. Papelbon was horrible over his last eight appearances. Papelbon allowed nine runs, eight earned, on nine hits with six walks and four strikeouts (11.37 ERA, 2.68 WHIP). And teams had a 1.072 OPS against him (11-for-29 with three doubles, one home run).
Two of Joe Maddon’s lead bulls, Jon Lester and David Ross, know Papelbon extremely well. And it was Lester last summer that was pushing for the Cubs to acquire Papelbon from the Phillies. The Cubs front office drafted and developed Papelbon in Boston.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer know exactly what type of person and teammate he is and if he would be able to help in the Cubs in the bullpen.