Jonathan Papelbon’s Phillies uniform hung in a locker in the visiting clubhouse at Rogers Centre on Tuesday.
But unless Papelbon decides to dress up as a Phillie for Halloween — and don’t put that past the prankster — he will never wear the uniform again.
As the Phillies began their game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night, team officials wrapped up a trade that will send Papelbon to the Washington Nationals. Papelbon and cash considerations will be traded to the Washington Nationals in exchange for minor league right-hander Nick Pivetta. Pivetta, 22, was the Nats’ fourth-round pick in 2013.
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Papelbon spent Monday’s off day at home in Mississippi and never made it to Toronto. The deal with the Nats had percolated all day and there was no need for him to make the trip north.
As Papelbon exits, team officials remain focused on trading Cole Hamels for prospects. Texas remains the team the Phillies are most focused on. The Dodgers and others are also in the mix. The Phillies would like to add some young power bats to their rebuild and Texas has several that intrigue the Phillies, led by Nomar Mazara, Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams. Like Papelbon, Hamels has a partial no-trade clause. He cannot block a deal to Texas.
In a sign that the Phillies are committed to dealing Hamels, the team has moved him back a day in the rotation. He is scheduled to pitch Friday, not Thursday as originally planned. Of course, that’s if he is still a Phillie. The non-waiver trade deadline is Friday at 4 p.m.
Maybe the Hamels trade will come Wednesday, which is July 29. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has a history of pulling off big deals on that day. He got Cliff Lee in 2009, Roy Oswalt in 2010 and Hunter Pence in 2011. Of course, those deals were designed to fortify the Phillies for a run at World Series title. Dealing Hamels is an admission that the Phillies don’t expect to be good for a while, a confirmation that the team is in deep rebuild mode.
Papelbon, 34, signed the richest deal ever for a reliever — four years, $50 million — after the Phillies won 102 games but were knocked out the of the postseason early in 2011. He thought he was coming to Philadelphia to win “a couple of rings." The Phillies did not make the postseason during his first three seasons with the club and are headed for the worst record in the majors this season.
The Phillies unsuccessfully tried to trade Papelbon the previous two Julys. They were successful this July and Papelbon no doubt is happy about that. Earlier this month, Papelbon was vocal in saying it was time for the Phillies to trade him.
“It’s time to you-know-what or get off the pot,” he said.
Papelbon leaves at the Phillies all-time saves leader with 123. He is making $13 million this season. The Nationals assume the remainder of that salary. Papelbon had a $13 million option for 2016 which would have become guaranteed with 14 more games finished. Fox Sports reported that the option has been reworked and is now guaranteed at $11 million. The players association may have to sign off on that before the deal becomes official. It was not immediately known if the Phillies would cover some of that option.