Papelbon reportedly requested his release from the Nationals, who planned to designate him for assignment. The reason he did this is because a player can spend up to 10 days in DFA limbo before their team makes an official move. Instead, Papelbon can begin to look for a new club immediately.
Known for his fiery personality, the 35-year-old Papelbon has been subject to plenty of controversy during his Nationals career. Perhaps the most notable of these moments came when he and outfielder Bryce Harper got into a scuffle in the dugout at the end of the 2015 season.
This was Papelbon's first full season with the Nationals, who acquired him from the Phillies during last year's trade deadline.
In 35 innings pitched this year, Papelbon has a 4.37 ERA and a 31-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has been worth 0.3 Wins Above Replacement according to FanGraphs.
Papelbon saved 19 of his 22 save opportunities this season but lost the closer's job after having a rough June and July, posting a 7.36 ERA and a 13-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 11 innings, blowing a save and taking two losses.
The Nationals, at the trade deadline, acquired another closer. This season, it was Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Papelbon has only been used twice since that time, both coming in blowouts.
The Red Sox are among the teams that could show interest in Papelbon on the open market. They have a need in their bullpen and he spent seven years with the club, pitching there from 2005 to 2011.
The Nationals will owe Papelbon the rest of the money on his five-year, $61 million contract that expires after this season. He is making $11 million this year.