With Top Bullpen Options Coming Off The Board, Could Drew Storen Stay With The Washington Nationals?


Could the Nationals possibly keep Drew Storen with the top bullpen targets in both trade and free agency starting to come off the board? 

So far, during these Winter Meetings, the Washington Nationals have seen two of their top reliever targets come off the board. Darren O’Day has agreed to re-sign with the Baltimore Orioles on a four-year deal and the Reds agreed to trade Aroldis Chapman to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two prospects, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network:

With Joakim Soria now going to the Royals, the free agent options for closer are dwindling. Yes, there are trade options still out there such as the Pirates’ Mark Melancon, the Yankees’ Andrew Miller, the Rays’ Brad Boxberger, or the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen (should they move him after acquiring Chapman). However, what if the Nationals decided to keep their closer from the first half of the season?

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Last night, Rob Bradford of WEEI was the first to report that Jonathan Papelbon filed a grievance with the Nats for being suspended without pay for four games. Papelbon was suspended for putting his hands on Bryce Harper’s neck in the dugout on September 27 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

While I never thought Papelbon would be back in a Nats’ uniform in 2016, this should seal the deal. Even if the Nats have to eat all of the money and cut him, they can’t have him on the field in 2016. If the Nats do trade or cut Papelbon, where would that leave Drew Storen?

Storen has been the talk of trade discussions this offseason and William Ladson of MLB.com reported on Saturday that the Nats are shopping Storen this week in Nashville. However, Storen was a successful closer for the Nationals in the first half of the season. He was 27-for-29 in save opportunities with a 1.89 ERA and held opponents to a .208 batting average.

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Then, Mike Rizzo made the decision to trade for Papelbon, thus demoting Storen to the setup role. Storen’s second half was mediocre, to say the least, when you look at his 5.82 ERA over his final 23 appearances of the season. To me, Storen would be the last option if the Nats’ plan to revamp the bullpen falls through.

Normally, it would be an easy decision to bring back Storen for one more year, but he made his own mistake when he broke his thumb by slamming a locker after losing the lead against the Mets in early September, which ended his season.

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It’s a mistake more forgivable than Papelbon, but we saw in that moment why the Nats demoted Storen based on some of his past postseason failures. Nevertheless, with one year left on his deal, it shouldn’t be that far out of the question for Storen to be back in a Nats’ uniform, especially if Rizzo doesn’t get the return that he wants in a deal or his other options fall through.