The Nationals announced today that they have suspended Jonathan Papelbon, without pay, for four game’s following last night’s dugout altercation with Bryce Harper. That suspension, in addition to a three-game suspension for throwing at Manny Machado (Papelbon has dropped his appeal of that league-mandated suspension), will keep him out of games for the remainder of the year.
“The behavior exhibited by Papelbon yesterday is not acceptable,” GM/president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo said in a release announcing the move. “That is not at all in line with the way our players are expected to conduct themselves, and the Nationals organization will not tolerate it in any way.”
Papelbon’s outburst, in which he grabbed Harper by the throat after the two exchanged heated words following a Harper fly-out which he didn’t run out particularly quickly (video link), was the source of a good deal of controversy and a number of reactions/far-reaching implications last night. Papelbon’s suspensions — one league-issued and one team-issued — will cost him a total of just over $497K in salary.
From a big-picture standpoint, one can’t help but wonder what this means for Papelbon’s future in D.C. Already, there’s been speculation that Papelbon will be either traded or, more drastically, released. He’s owed $11MM in 2016 after restructuring his contract as incentive to waive his no-trade rights. Based strictly on his on-field performance, that sum may not be exorbitant, but when paired with a reputation that was already poor prior to this recent wave of drama, the Nats will be hard-pressed to find a taker for his services. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but I’d imagine that Rizzo will need to include a fair amount of cash to facilitate the move, making the entire acquisition look particularly regrettable.