It sounds like Jonathan Papelbon’s 2016 season is over whether he likes it or not.
The recently-released reliever still hasn’t signed with a team despite interest, and one suitor, the Boston Red Sox, appear content to move on.
Team president Dave Dombrowski told reporters that Papelbon joining the Red Sox, apparently his lone suitor, was now a long shot.
“We had interest in him, and we expressed that to him,” Dombrowski said, via Rob Bradford of WEEI. “John Farrell spoke with Jonathan Papelbon, and I think a couple of our players spoke to him, too. For his own personal reasons, he’s just decided so far not to sign. I’m not sure if he’s going to sign or not. I know he has a lot of strong feelings about Boston if he decides to sign. It’s just more of a situation where his agent says he’s not ready to make a decision.
“And now it becomes complicated because he hasn’t thrown in a game since Aug. 6. So you’re in a position where you just can’t thrust him out there. I don’t know what he’s been doing as far as throwing is concerned. I would doubt that he’s been throwing a lot. So you would have to go back out there and build up his arm strength and be in a position to face some hitters. It’s not just inserting him like it would be if you signed him right off the bat.”
The Red Sox would have to sign Papelbon by midnight on Wednesday to ensure he could even be eligible for the team’s playoff roster. A source told Bradford that would not happen, so there would be little point in adding him at this point. Any other team that had interest will likely feel the same.
The Red Sox discussed Papelbon a while ago, but it sounds like it’s the reliever who has dragged his feet on any deal. For that reason, his 2016 is likely over, whether he likes it or not.
Jonathan Papelbon is expected to make a decision by Wednesday on where he wants to play next, and there have been some rumblings that he could return to the Boston Red Sox. John Farrell isn’t exactly denying those reports.
In an appearance on MLB Network Radio, the Red Sox skipper admitted the team has had discussions about bringing Papelbon back.
Farrell on Jonathan Papelbon "we've talked about it, there's some real strong points to 'Pap' that could be an addition here"
The Red Sox have had issues with the back end of their bullpen all season long. Craig Kimbrell, their closer, recently returned from the disabled list and has been dealing with soreness in his knee. Though, at age 35 and toting a 4.37 ERA, it’s unclear how effective Papelbon could be again in the American League.
If nothing else, Papelbon is an experienced arm that has suddenly become available with the playoff push on. Typically pitchers with his resume are moved at the trade deadline, not weeks after.
One of Papelbon’s former Red Sox teammates, Jon Lester, has already said he would like to reunite with the right-hander in Chicago. Wherever Papelbon ends up, his new team had better be prepared to deal with potential headaches, some of which apparently involve Donald Trump.
We already knew that Jonathan Papelbon was an opinionated and outspoken ballplayer not unlike his former Boston Red Sox teammate Curt Schilling. What we didn’t realize was that his attitude spilled over to sharing his tastes with his teammates and the press.
The ditty was called “Vote For Trump,” and it included promises that “the wall will get built by Mexico” and that Trump would “bring back country [and] get rid of rap,” also noting that “if you don’t like it you can all just kiss our a–.”
Here’s the song, which is sung in a country tune and has some inappropriate language:
A number of contending teams are being linked with recently released reliever Jonathan Papelbon, but there are some questions as to whether his character would be detrimental to one of those teams.
Chicago Cubs pitcher and Papelbon’s former teammate Jon Lester doesn’t buy that at all.
“He is crazy,” Lester said of Papelbon on Sunday, via ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. “But he’s no crazier than the rest of us. He just gets a bad rap for what happened in the dugout. Knowing Papelbon, I’ve always had good things to say about him as a teammate, how he respects the game and how he goes about his business.”
“People are quick to jump to the conclusions based on one event,” Lester added. “I think he’s a great teammate. Like I said, I don’t think he’s any crazier that the rest of us. I think he still has a lot to give.”
It’s unclear if the Cubs would be interested in Papelbon. One of his former teams might want him, though.
Papelbon wouldn’t close with Boston. They have Craig Kimbrel, so he’d have to fit in somewhere else. It remains to be seen whether he’d accept a lesser role in a bullpen in order to play with a contending team.
Papelbon is available after he and Washington had what is best described as a mutual parting of the ways. He has a 4.37 ERA in 37 appearances in 2016.
Papelbon has been seemingly disappointed since being demoted as the Nats’ closer in light of the team’s acquisition of Mark Melancon. The Nats needed a roster spot for Reynaldo Lopez, whom they just called up, leading them to plan to DFA Papelbon.
Papelbon’s tenure with Washington will ultimately be viewed as a disaster. His 3.84 was ERA was modestly respectable on the surface, but the 1.313 WHIP he posted as a National was the highest mark he’s put up with any team by some distance. His mediocre on-field performance, however, will forever be overshadowed by the infamous choke from September 2015. He was never going to be able to redefine his tenure in Washington after that, and the Nats traded for a replacement closer in July. It’s no surprise it has come to this.
Jonathan Papelbon may not be long for the Washington Nationals closer role.
After Papelbon blew a save on Tuesday night against Cleveland, Nationals manager Dusty Baker seemed to call into question whether Papelbon was the solution in the role.
“It’s too soon after,” Baker said of Papelbon’s role after the game, according to Mark Zuckerman of MASN. “I mean, that’s his job. That’s what he’s getting paid for. I don’t know. We just have to go back to the drawing board. It’s too early to say after the game.”
Papelbon’s confidence has not been dented by his struggles.
“My confidence in this game has never fluctuated, and it never will,” Papelbon said. “I think that’s something that’s never really happened to me.”
Papelbon’s ERA is a career-worst 4.18, and his 1.423 WHIP is the highest since his brief rookie stint in 2005. These struggles are a big reason why the Nationals were in the market for a closer, and why they may well still be looking.
Jayson Werth and the Washington Nationals seem to have bestowed an extremely fitting nickname upon Jonathan Papelbon.
Werth was interviewed on the field after he delivered a walkoff two-run single to beat the Phillies on Sunday, and he made an apparent reference to Papelbon – using a very unique nickname.
“Well, I knew I was in trouble when I saw The Strangler coming at me,” Werth said when asked to talk about the walkoff celebration.
“Who’s The Strangler?” asked MASN’s Dan Kolko.
“You know, The D.C. Strangler,” Werth said, prompting Kolko to laugh and veer into a different line of questioning.
Werth, of course, was referring to this incident that happened at the end of 2015 involving Papelbon and Bryce Harper. The two had apparently settled their differences, and if the team can crack jokes like this in the clubhouse, it looks like they weren’t kidding. If there is any justice in the world, Papelbon will be known as the D.C. Strangler long after he has retired from baseball.
Papelbon quite famously choked out his MVP teammate as the 2015 season wound down, the enduring memory of a disappointing season in the nation’s capital. The two have since worked out their differences, which is probably a factor in why Harper was willing to sign it and go along with things.
And hey, while you’re at it, you can bid on this and start a collection of clothing worn by angry baseball personalities.
Later, he walked the Nats’ complex in a cut-off muscle T-shirt with arrows pointing to big biceps covered in jagged tattoos. The shirt said: “Obama Can’t Ban These Guns.” Pap wanted to wear that shirt to the “apology press conference,” but he was talked out of it.
Boswell also notes that Papelbon was in charge of the music in the clubhouse at the time, and a country song conveniently entitled “Shut Me Up” was playing in the background while he issued the apology.
It’s pretty surprising that Washington decided to keep Papelbon around, though perhaps they feel old-school manager Dusty Baker can keep the peace in the clubhouse. As long as the Nats can keep Papelbon’s hands away from his teammates’ necks and closely monitor his wardrobe, things should go smoothly.