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July 28, 2015

Phillies trade closer Jonathan Papelbon to Washington Nationals

UPDATE [8:20 p.m.] - The Phillies have made it official.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon is headed to the Washington Nationals, along with cash considerations, in exchange for pitching prospect Nick Pivetta, the team confirmed Tuesday night.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. is set to meet with the media at 8:30 p.m. and Rich Hofmann will have you covered with the latest from Citizens Bank Park.


The Phillies' all-time leader in saves will now be pitching for a different NL East team.

According to multiple reports, Jonathan Papelbon will get his wish to pitch for a contender and is headed to the Washington Nationals, who will send the Phillies double-A pitching prospect Nick Pivetta in return.

Papelbon, 34, has not been shy over the years in expressing his desire to be traded to a playoff-bound team. Meanwhile, he's been stellar for the Phillies on the field this season, posting his lowest ERA (1.59) since 2006 and going a perfect 17-for-17 in save situations.

In his four-plus seasons since signing the most lucrative deal for a relief pitcher in MLB history, Papelbon has been among the best closers in the game, despite his lack of work, which is due in large part to the overall decline of the Phillies. He was selected as an All Star in 2012 and 2015, and in May of this season, he passed Jose Mesa for the all-time lead in saves as a Phillie with 113. He'll finish his Phillies career with 123 saves.

Complicating the deal was the fact that Papelbon, who would have had to waive his no-trade clause before a deal could be made, will likely be due a vesting option for the 2016 season. Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer has more:

The sticking point in any trade discussions involving him have long been the $13-million option he will likely be owed for next season. The option vests if Papelbon finishes only 14 more games this season, so that salary must be accounted for in trade discussions.  []

But according Mel Antonen, Papelbon was able to reach an agreement with the Nationals for 2016, basically guaranteeing his "option." 

Ken Rosenthal of was the first to report that some kind of restructuring took place, and it appears the now-former Phillie will be pitching in the nation's capital at a much lower price than he did while in Philadelphia.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr is set to meet with the media at 8:30 p.m. and Rich Hofmann will have you covered from CBP. Make sure to follow him on Twitter for the latest.


Pivetta, a fourth-round pick in 2013 who has struggled since being promoted to double-A, is the Nationals' 12th-best prospect:

Here's what Nationals' scouting director Kris Kline had to say about the 6-foot-5 righty's game when the team originally drafted him:

"You guys are going to like this kid," Washington Nationals' scouting director Kris Kline told reporters after the Nats selected 6'5'' right-hander Nicholas Pivetta out of New Mexico Junior College with the 136th pick in the 4th Round of the 2013 MLB Draft. "Very good delivery. [Junior college] kid so he's young, he just turned 20 I believe. Saw him a couple of times this year. Looking at 89-95 with, like I said, a really good delivery and a plus breaking ball. It's a curve ball, it's not a spike, it's a conventional-grip curve ball. This kid to me is a [no.3] starter with the potential to be higher just because he has so much upside. He's got a very good feel for his changeup."

"He hasn't quite filled out yet," Kline continued, "He's a strike thrower, so he's going to learn how to pitch [and] there's not a lot of tweaking involved with this kid's delivery, he's pretty clean as is, so it should be a pretty good transition into the minor leagues."  []

And here's a video scouting report from


Even if you aren't entirely sold on who the Phillies got in return -- we won't know for sure for at least a few years -- there's a different* positive you can take away from the trade.

*Yet another is that they were able to rid themselves of Papelbon's monstrous contract.

Ken Giles is now the Phillies' closer.

Giles, who has been serving as the team's set-up man since being called up in June of last year, will get his chance to prove for certain what many have long believed: that he is the closer of the future.

In 89 games (89.1 innings) with the Phillies, Giles has a 1.51 ERA and a 1.063 WHIP. The 24-year-old hard-throwing righty was the Phillies seventh-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft.