Another day, another rumor of the Washington Nationals' interest in a back-end of the bullpen arm. This time it's one in the Nats' own division.
FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday night that sources tell them that the Nationals have had trade talks with the Philadelphia Phillies about veteran closer Jonathan Papelbon:
Rosenthal followed up on the initial report with more information:
More on #Nationals’ interest in Papelbon: As I’ve reported previously, Nats are reluctant to add significant payroll in-season.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 25, 2015
The remaining money on Papelbon's contract is what's left of his $13M salary for this season, reportedly around $5M, and the 34-year-old closer has a vesting option for 2016 that's, "guaranteed with 55 games finished in 2015 or 100 games finished in 2014-15," according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, which ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote two days back on Twitter, "remains a sticking point," in negotiations.
Papelbon has finished 86 games so far between the last two seasons, 52 last year and 34 so far in 2015.
Through 36 games and 38 ⅔ innings pitched, the right-hander has 17 saves, a 1.63 ERA, a 2.99 FIP, eight walks (1.86 BB/9), 39 Ks (9.08 K/9) and a .207/.271/.329 line against.
As Rosenthal mentions in his tweet, the bow-tied FOXSports.com reporter has previously reported that if the Nats are going to make a deal that adds to the payroll, he thinks, "Mike Rizzo might need to be creative," because, "Nats ownership is reluctant to add payroll in the middle of a season."
In a late-June article on the Nationals' plans at the non-waiver trade deadline, Rosenthal wrote that the Nats' owners, "... despite being among the wealthiest in the sport, are reluctant to add payroll in the middle of a season, according to major-league sources."
In an MLB Network Radio interview this week, Mike Rizzo talked about potentially making a deal this month, and said the Nationals would pull the trigger if the right one was there.
"We've shown in the past that we're not afraid to make a trade," Rizzo said. "We've pulled triggers on big deals, small deals and in-between, so if something we feel fits for us, we'll certainly dive in and try and help the ballclub."
So could a deal work if the Phillies were in fact willing to cover a significant portion of the remaining money on his deal?
In a previous report (on June 10th) on discussions with the Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs, Rosenthal wrote that the Phillies, "are willing to pay a large percentage of Papelbon’s remaining money to land better prospects."
Papelbon, who has a limited no trade clause that allows him to block deals to 17 clubs, told Philadelphia Inquirer writer Matt Gelb earlier this month that he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause for a deal to a contender.
"Some guys want to stay on a losing team? That's mind-boggling to me," Papelbon said. "I think that's a no-brainer."— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) July 10, 2014
CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury spoke to Papelbon on Friday about the reports of interest on the Nationals' part:
Re: Wash reported interest in Pap (@Ken_Rosenthal). Talked to him about that today. Phils have not approached him. Won't go unless he closes— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) July 25, 2015