On October 5th, Bill Ladson of MLB.com reported that the Nationals had moved on from Jonathan Papelbon. After the altercation with Bryce Harper, and the closer drama that was created, Washington no longer wanted the reliever that they had acquired before the July 31st trade deadline. However according to Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, the Nationals' plan has shifted.
Seemingly the biggest reason that Papelbon was going to be traded or cut, was because of the fight that took place between himself and Harper; but that's not a problem anymore.
"Since the end of the season, Bryce Harper has reached out to Jonathan Papelbon to make sure their relationship as teammates is functional next season.
'Papelbon and Harper are fine together,' one person inside the Nationals said, referring to Harper's phone call. 'Harp just wants to win. All he cares about is that we have a 45-save relief pitcher who's going to help us.'"
There have been more than a fair share of articles written about how Harper is a prima donna, and that Dusty Baker needs to teach "Harper how to be a man", but that clearly doesn't seem to be an issue.
The Nationals have also changed their minds about trading Drew Storen, "with the expectation that they [Storen and Papelbon] will work out a way to 'play nice together.'" Baker is no stranger to managing difficult personalities, and it's fair to wonder if his hiring had anything to do with their new plan.
Mike Rizzo still has a lot of work ahead of him, but being able to hold onto Papelbon and Storen, two key bullpen pieces, should lessen the burden on him considerably.