WASHINGTON (AP) The Washington Nationals have released former closer Jonathan Papelbon.

The move came Saturday when the Nationals needed a roster spot to recall right-hander Reynaldo Lopez to start against the Atlanta Braves.

A little over a year after the Nationals acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies to replace Drew Storen as their closer, Papelbon became a free agent. He can sign with any team.

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The six-time All-Star had a tumultuous tenure in Washington that included him grabbing National League MVP Bryce Harper by the throat during a dugout altercation in September. This season, he converted 19 of 22 save opportunities but struggled in July and has a 4.37 ERA.

The 35-year-old right-hander allowed eight runs on seven hits in three outings before the Nationals traded for new closer Mark Melancon.