From 2005-2011, Papelbon was known as the Red Sox' fiery, amped-up ninth-inning man. He closed out the 2007 World Series and was Boston's man to put the nail in the opposing team's coffin many, many times.
Papelbon signed with the Phillies that offseason, wanting to go out and win another World Series championship. When that couldn't be done, all Papelbon wanted was to be traded. He spoke out publicly against Phillies management on numerous occasions, leading Philadelphia fans (quite unsurprisingly) to boo and shout at the closer when he came into games.
But Papelbon continued to to his job and got his wish of being traded to a contender at this year's trade deadline. He was sent south to the nation's capital and became a member of the Washington Nationals, the preseason World Series favorite, even though the team had what many thought to be a perfectly fine closer in Drew Storen.
Papelbon's time with Washington has been fine. He came into the ninth inning of many games, shut the door most of the time, and wasn't too loud about it. Because, in sense, he was where he wanted to be. He was out of Philadelphia and with a "winner."
As the Nationals' season started to go downhill, so did Papelbon. From September 8 to 18, when the Nationals were clinging on to their slim playoff hopes, Papelbon had a 5.40 ERA, blew two saves, and took the loss on a separate occasion.
Papelbon may have already tainted his reputation with the Nationals for the rest of his career.
Papelbon had already been suspended by Major League Baseball by throwing at Manny Machado just a few days ago. Because he appealed the suspension, he was able to play.
Today, he went after one of his own.
In the bottom of the eighth inning against the Phillies, Bryce Harper hit a fly ball into short left field. He apparently did not run it out at full speed. Upon coming back to the dugout, Papelbon chirped at Harper, allegedly telling him to run it out. Then, it got ugly. Papelbon grabbed Harper's neck and a dugout altercation between the two started. It was hard to tell, but punches may have been thrown. The two were separated and Harper stormed into the clubhouse.
Obviously, it wasn't smart of them to acquire the relief pitcher to begin with. Since they traded for Papelbon on July 28, the team is 27-29, and lost 9 1/2 games of ground to the New York Mets (not including today's game).
Papelbon is still signed through next season and is owed $11 million.
The Nationals have multiple options here. They could bite the bullet and consider this to be the last straw and release Papelbon. However, then they owe him the money for next year. They could also try and trade him, however, it would be hard to find a taker for him following what happened today and his history of being a clubhouse poison.
It'll be interesting to see what they decide to do, but one thing's for sure. The Papel-bomb exploded today and it was ugly.