Report: Nats GM, Kelley had near-physical altercation before trade
Jason O. Watson / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo traded reliever Shawn Kelley earlier this month, several days after he'd slammed his glove to the ground in frustration after allowing a home run with his team leading by 24 runs. While Rizzo's public anger was palpable the following day, it seems that his rage almost boiled over in the immediate aftermath.

Following the game in question on July 31, Rizzo entered the Nationals' clubhouse to confront Kelley about the incident, sparking a heated exchange between the two that almost turned physical before outfielder Adam Eaton intervened, sources close to the situation told Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post.

Less than 24 hours later, Washington designated Kelley for assignment. He was traded to the Oakland Athletics on Aug. 5 for international bonus pool funds.

"You're either in, or you're in the way," Rizzo said of Kelley's behavior after he'd been removed from the Nationals' roster.

Two other veteran Nationals pitchers, Max Scherzer and Ryan Madson, were also apparently upset with Kelley that night and confronted him, according to Janes.

Washington entered 2018 as the presumptive favorites to repeat as National League East champions, but a once-promising season has since spiraled almost completely out of control. The team enters play Monday sporting a disappointing 62-63 record while sitting seven games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves. Reports of a fractured clubhouse also circulated in the days leading up to the deadline, leading to speculation that the team might choose to sell on July 31.

Ultimately, the Nationals mostly stood pat at the deadline, save for the controversial trade of another reliever, Brandon Kintzler, to the Chicago Cubs. Kintzler was forced to defend himself after it was reported that the deal was made because Rizzo believed he was the source of public rumors regarding the team's clubhouse issues.

Kelley, who posted a 3.34 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings for Washington this season, has not allowed a run since joining the red-hot A's.

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Report: Nats GM, Kelley had near-physical altercation before trade
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