When do MLB teams finally have their fill of Jonathan Papelbon? For the Phillies, a few years of listening to the closer openly discuss his personal trade market finally did the trick late in July of the 2015 season.
As for the Nationals, the closer’s new club is weighing how to handle him after he provoked (then choked) Bryce Harper in the dugout on September 27. Considering how poor clubhouse culture has been in Washington, it’s impossible to see how Papelbon could have a positive impact on this team in 2016. Washington should do everything it can to move him out of town before next season begins.
It was mid-August when we surveyed the sinking Washington Nationals ship on its way to taking on more water. From this vantage point, we saw a lack of leadership and a toxic clubhouse among its most pressing problems. But the newly acquired Papelbon was only beginning to offer his typical returns. Closer Drew Storen, who had a 1.64 ERA and 29 saves through July, turned in an 8.49 ERA after being demoted to the setup role in August. In September, Storen injured his hand in a fit of rage and was out for the season.
That call is on the Nationals front office, not Papelbon, and Washington got a better picture of the closer it had acquired in late September. There was the incident when Papelbon beaned Manny Machado for what he perceived as hot-dogging in a previous at-bat. Then the final stroke of Papelbon’s season came when he confronted Harper for a perceived lack of hustle the day after the club was eliminated from contention. He was suspended a total of seven games for the two incidents.