According to a report from ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick this morning, the Washington Nationals and now-former closer Jonathan Papelbon may be close to parting ways.
Papelbon, 35, has reportedly requested his release after he lost his job in the Nationals’ bullpen when the Nats acquired Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a trade before the non-waiver deadline.
It was a move that was made necessary by Papelbon’s struggles in his second season in D.C. after was acquired in a pre-deadline deal in late July of 2015.
In 37 appearances and 35 IP this season, the right-hander has put up a 4.37 ERA and a 3.68 FIP, with 14 walks (3.60 BB/9), 31 Ks (7.97 K/9) and a .268/.338/.416 line against.
Crasnick is reporting this morning that Papelbon has asked for his release and a move might be coming soon-ish:
Hearing some rumblings that the #Nationals are about to make a move with Jonathan Papelbon. Stay tuned.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) August 13, 2016
#Nationals have had discussions about releasing Jonathan Papelbon, multiple sources confirm.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) August 13, 2016
Papelbon has requested his release and #Nationals are trying to figure out best way to do it, industry source says. Could be soon.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) August 13, 2016
In an MLB Network Radio interview this week, Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker, who praised Papelbon as a teammate and well-liked and respected member of the clubhouse, discussed the supplanted closer’s struggles adjusting to the move to bring Melancon into the ‘pen.
“He’s been used to closing all this time,” Baker said, “but we all have to remember that he was in the same position himself a couple of years ago when he came in and took [Drew] Storen’s job, and so I guess what comes around goes around, but I mean it was a little tough — I imagine it was a little tough to for him to accept it, but he’s a team guy, he wants to win more than anything and it’s supposed to be tough for him.
“Nobody expected it to be easy for him, but that’s a part of life.”
UPDATE: Jerry Crasnick is not the only one hearing these rumblings:
Nationals release of Jonathan Papelbon "in the works," according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) August 13, 2016