Mike Rizzo was expecting a quiet Sunday check-in at the Gaylord resort in Nashville when he was peppered with questions about a report from Rob Bradford of the Boston press who has a source telling him that Papelbon has filed a grievance for the not getting paid during his suspension for the remaining 4 games of the 2015 season. The amount is close to $350,000 and if the grievance was filed it would be done through the player’s union.
Sources: Jonathan Papelbon files grievance against Nationals https://t.co/CvPzpGyjk7
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) December 7, 2015
Rizzo has said he will answer questions at his first opportunity on Monday regarding Papelbon and other Hot Stove items.
Here is what the Gaylord looked like at about 2:30AM in the morning:
— MLB (@MLB) December 7, 2015
While the rumors heading into the Winter Meeting were that Rizzo would be shopping Drew Storen, ( http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/12/nationals-to-shop-drew-storen-at-winter-meetings.html ) , it has now been complicated further by this Papelbon news as it appears that any calming of the matters with Papelbon have been stirred up once again. Couple all that with the Nats attempts so far to bolster the bullpen beyond the signing of lefty specialist Oliver Perez has been it.
While the Nats bullpen has several candidates from the 40 man roster (see below), let’s get real on the real status as the Nats can really only count on Rivero out of all of those names as a pitcher who could set-up right now. Oliver Perez is a lefty specialist and Rafael Martin is a righty specialist, and Blake Treinen was an inconsistent pitcher for most of 2015. Without Papelbon and Storen, Rizzo would need to add a closer, a 7th or 8th inning set-up man to compliment Rivero, and choose a long-man:
- Jonathan Papelbon
- Drew Storen
- Felipe Rivero
- Oliver Perez
- Blake Treinen
- Rafael Martin
- Erik Davis
- Abel De Los Santos
- Matt Grace
- Sammy Solis
- Aaron Barrett (60 day DL)
The bullpen was identified early on as the most crucial need for upgrading this off-season. The Nats were 23rd in the Majors with Saves converted in 2015 with a 64.06% success rate. By definition, not all Saves are blown in the 9th inning as many get blown in the 7th and 8th innings. Three post-season teams from 2015 were at a 79% or better Save conversion rate: St. Louis Cardinals, NY Yankees, and Pittsburgh Pirates. Rizzo is well aware of all the blown saves and what each one does to the team psychologically and in the standings.
The other need that Rizzo must address this off-season is the left-handed bats, and Rizzo has a meeting with Ben Zobrist set for this week while in Zobrist’s hometown of Nashville. Zobrist is a switch-hitter and is seeking a 4 year deal. He is known as the “Swiss Army Knife” of baseball as he can play many different positions and play them well. Other than that Rizzo can look to sign one of the Free Agent outfielders out there like Gerardo Parra.
There are plenty of trade options that Rizzo and staff will be working while in Nashville.