Papelbon now appears unlikely to sign with another team this season, WEEI's Rob Bradford reports. He will need to sign before midnight Wednesday in order to be eligible to to pitch in the postseason, and according to Bradford, that is unlikely to happen. Only contending teams would conceivably see value in bringing Papelbon aboard, so if he remains unsigned on Thursday, he likely won't pitch in the big leagues again until 2017.
Papelbon is expected to be granted his release from the Nationals, the Washington Post's Chelsea Janes reports. He asked to be released, rather than designated for assignment, so that he could catch on with another team as soon as possible, as the DFA process takes 10 days to finalize a switch in teams. Rather than remain with the Nationals as a setup man after the team acquired Mark Melancon at the deadline to take over the closing duties, Papelbon would rather try to go to another organization. It's hard to envision which team would bring Papelbon aboard as a closer at this point in the season, especially given his 4.37 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 31:14 K:BB in 35 innings. Of course, he could just want to get away from the Nationals, and might be fine being used in the seventh or eighth inning on another contending team.
Papelbon is out as the Nationals' closer with the team acquiring Mark Melancon from Pittsburgh on Saturday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Manager Dusty Baker refused to commit to Papelbon as his closer when asked early Saturday afternoon, and the team later informed Papelbon that he was indeed out after its acquisition of Melancon was made official. Papelbon, a free agent after this season, has hit a rough stretch lately with seven earned runs allowed in his last three appearances (spanning one inning). It's uncertain if Papelbon or Shawn Kelly will serve as the top setup option.
Manager Dusty Baker would not commit to Papelbon remaining the closer when asked about Papelbon's status Saturday, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. Papelbon was pulled from a save situation Thursday after allowing a run, two days after he blew a save opportunity against Cleveland, and Baker instead turned to Shawn Kelley to close out the Giants on Friday. Papelbon has given up seven earned runs in his last three appearances (totaling one inning), with four walks over that span. The veteran did turn in seven straight scoreless appearances after his return from the DL in early July, and it doesn't sound like Baker is willing to commit to a role change just yet, but the writing is on the wall for Papelbon's formal removal from the ninth inning.
Papelbon was yanked with one out in the ninth inning Thursday against the Giants after allowing a hit and a walk. He was ultimately charged with a run. Oliver Perez and finally Shawn Kelley ended up piecing together the save, but first, one of Papelbon's baserunners scored on an error. The 35-year-old has unraveled recently, pitching a total of exactly one inning in his last three appearances while allowing eight runs (seven earned) with a 1:4 K:BB. Papelbon was already barely clinging to his job as the Nationals' closer, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him get displaced by Kelley on a permanent basis.