The Washington Nationals have released right-handed relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon, they announced on Saturday.
Papelbon reportedly requested his release from the Nationals, who planned to designate him for assignment. The reason he did this is because a player can spend up to 10 days in DFA limbo before their team makes an official move. Instead, Papelbon can begin to look for a new club immediately.
Known for his fiery personality, the 35-year-old Papelbon has been subject to plenty of controversy during his Nationals career. Perhaps the most notable of these moments came when he and outfielder Bryce Harper got into a scuffle in the dugout at the end of the 2015 season.
This was Papelbon's first full season with the Nationals, who acquired him from the Phillies during last year's trade deadline.
In 35 innings pitched this year, Papelbon has a 4.37 ERA and a 31-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has been worth 0.3 Wins Above Replacement according to FanGraphs.
Papelbon saved 19 of his 22 save opportunities this season but lost the closer's job after having a rough June and July, posting a 7.36 ERA and a 13-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 11 innings, blowing a save and taking two losses.
The Nationals, at the trade deadline, acquired another closer. This season, it was Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Papelbon has only been used twice since that time, both coming in blowouts.
The Red Sox are among the teams that could show interest in Papelbon on the open market. They have a need in their bullpen and he spent seven years with the club, pitching there from 2005 to 2011.
The Nationals will owe Papelbon the rest of the money on his five-year, $61 million contract that expires after this season. He is making $11 million this year.
The Washington Nationals have added an impactful bullpen piece on Saturday.
According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals have acquired All-Star closer Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rosenthal reported just a few hours ago that the Nationals were focusing in on him.
In exchange for Melancon, the Pirates acquired two players: left-handers Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, was an All-Star this year, his third appearance in the past four seasons. In 45 games, he is 1-1 with a 1.51 ERA and a 38-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 41 2/3 innings pitched. He also has 30 saves in 33 appearances.
The right-hander is expected to become a free agent at the end of this season. He was arbitration eligible for his third and final time last offseason and signed a one-year, $9.65 million deal with Pittsburgh.
Melancon definitely fills a big need for the Nationals, who are struggling to close out games at the moment. Closer Jonathan Papelbon has struggled as of late, posting a 7.36 ERA in his last 13 games. He effectively had already lost the closer's spot.
While the Pirates are in contention this season, Melancon was expendable for them. They feel as if they have other options for the 9th inning, and considering the price for relief pitching, it would make sense for them to trade him.
As for their return, Rivero should be able to help out in the big league bullpen now, which makes this a good two-way trade for both contending teams.
The 25-year-old lefty is under team control through 2021 and has shown decent results in his big league career. This season, Rivero has a 4.53 ERA and a 53-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 49 2/3 innings pitched. He sees his fastball sit in the 95 MPH range while also mixing in a slider and change-up.
Hearn, on the other hand, is still a few years away from the Majors. At 21, he is still pitching in Class A, where he has a 3.18 ERA and a 31-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22 2/3 innings pitched (8 games; 2 starts). He was listed as the Nationals' No. 27 prospect on MLB.com.
The Washington Nationals are in the market for a relief pitcher. Jonathan Papelbon has struggled, and the team has explored lots of options, from Andrew Miller to Aroldis Chapman.
According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals are focusing in on acquiring Pirates closer Mark Melancon.
Washington has seen Jonathan Papelbon implode over the past few weeks, forcing Dusty Baker to effectively move him out of the 9th inning role.
Since the beginning of June, Papelbon has pitched in 13 games, going 2-2 with a 7.36 ERA. He has not had his trademark command, striking out 13 and walking eight in his 11 innings pitched.
This has led the Nationals to look for another back-end relief pitcher like Melancon. The 31-year-old has had a phenomenal season this year, posting a 1.51 ERA and a 38-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 41 2/3 innings pitched, saving 30 of his 33 opportunities.
Melancon would be a rental for the Nationals, as he will be a free agent at the end of the season.
In fact, this is the very reason why the Pirates would consider moving him. The team is still in contention, and they feel as if they have comparable options to handle the 9th innings. Melancon could bring in a haul for them even though they are in contention.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce was thought to have been a huge trade chip last season as a left-handed, power hitting outfielder that came with a year-and-a-half of team control.
Aug. 1 came and Jay Bruce was still a Red.
But this season, Bruce has an even higher chance to be traded. The Reds are 34-58, sitting in last in the NL Central and are in full rebuild-mode. Bruce is a free agent at the end of the season, finishing off of a six-year, $51 million contract. And teams need him.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, six teams have already checked in on Bruce. These are the Indians, Rangers, Nationals, Orioles, Giants and Dodgers. The Blue Jays have also reportedly shown interest in Bruce.
In addition, all six of these teams have been in the markets for other outfielders such as Ryan Braun, Josh Reddick and perhaps even Carlos Gonzalez.
The 29-year-old Bruce was picked by the Reds in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 2005 MLB Draft and has been a staple in their lineup ever since coming up to the Major Leagues.
The three-time All-Star (including 2016) is a defensive liability, however, many teams value offensive contributions, especially on the left-handed side of the plate.
This season, Bruce is hitting .265/.317/.532 with 18 home runs and 64 RBI over 353 plate appearances in 86 games. Though according to FanGraphs, Bruce has only been worth 0.1 Wins Above Replacement.
This is because of his defense. Bruce has an awful -20.6 ultimate zone rating per 150 games (UZR/150), meaning that he would be almost 21 runs worse than the average right fielder in terms of range and making defensive plays.
Over his career, Bruce has always been an offense-first player, carrying a .249/.319/.467 line with 226 home runs and 644 RBI in parts of nine seasons. His career wRC+ of 107 suggests that he has been seven percent better offensively than the league-average hitter. This year, his wRC+ is 118.
As the Aug. 1 trade deadline quickly approaches, it's more than likely Jay Bruce will find himself in a new home.
The Washington Nationals have promoted right-handed starter Lucas Giolito to the Major Leagues, manager Dusty Baker announced Monday afternoon.
Giolito, 21, will make his big league debut Tuesday versus the New York Mets, Baker said.
A need for a starting pitcher arose in Washington when right-hander Stephen Strasburg was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to an upper back strain. He has missed his last two scheduled starts.
Giolito has the opportunity to stick with the Nationals even after Strasburg comes back, however. Baker noted that his role will be taken on a start-to-start basis.
Perhaps the best pitching prospect in the minor leagues, Giolito is currently ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by MLB.com:
"Giolito has the highest ceiling among Minor League pitchers, boasting an elite fastball that sits mid-to-upper-90s and a 12-to-6 curveball that he throws with power and hard, downer action," according to the website's scouting report.
"His changeup has steadily improved in the past two seasons and his confidence along with it, giving him a legitimate weapon against left-handed hitters."
Giolito has the ability to turn into an ace at the Major League level, but it remains to be seen what type of success he will have coming out of the gate.
Certainly having the talent to pitch at the Major League level, the former 2012 1st round pick has not yet progressed past Double-A and his time there has been anything but spectacular.
In 71 innings with Double-A Harrisburg this season over 14 starts, Giolito is 5-3 with a 3.17 ERA and a 72 to 34 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has a 3.22 FIP there.