Big league players with expiring contracts and six years of Major League service time have a 15-day window to file for free agency after the World Series, and their previous club can negotiate exclusively with them until Nov. 20. After that, they are free to sign with any team.
Kearns, a 29-year-old outfielder, had a $10 million option that was, as expected, declined, with Washington instead taking the $1 million buyout.
That likely ends Kearns' tenure with the Nationals. The once-promising right-handed hitter made $17.5 million with the club the past three years but hit just .209 with 10 home runs and 49 RBIs combined the past two seasons. For his eight-year career, he's hit .256 with 105 home runs.
In 2009, Kearns saw action in just 80 games, batting .195 with three home runs and 17 RBIs.
Young was limited to just 186 games in his three years in Washington because of a series of injuries, including a torn left quadriceps that kept him out of the Major Leagues all of 2009. The 36-year-old first baseman, whose two-year, $10 million deal has expired, may retire this offseason.
For his career, Young has batted .292 with 171 home runs in 13 years in the big leagues.
Villone, signed to a Minor League contract, went 5-6 with a 4.25 ERA in 63 relief appearances -- second most on the Nats' pitching staff this season. The 39-year-old left-hander has a 4.73 ERA in 15 seasons in the big leagues.
Catcher Josh Bard and right-hander Livan Hernandez filed for free agency the first day they were eligible to, on Thursday.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.