After a long weekend it looks as though Billy Wagner could be taking his traveling circus on the road—with the Mets—which will fit in quite nicely with the 2009 Mets' very own circus.
Billy Wagner had stated that playing for a playoff contender is a priority and he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause for that opportunity. However, now that the scenario has presented itself with the Boston Red Sox, conditions have changed.
The way Wagner’s current contract is structured, he has an $8 million option with a $1 million buyout. If the contract is bought out by the team he plays for, Wagner will become a free agent and be able to choose his next team—a team which will be in need of a closer.
Wagner wants two things if he is going to accept a trade to Boston. He wants his option declined and he does not want to be offered salary arbitration. If a team offers Wagner salary arbitration and he declines it then the next team who signs him will have to offer two high-level draft picks as compensation.
Wagner will be a much more attractive commodity on the open market for a team if they don’t have to lose picks in the process.
Today, Wagner is sixth on the career list with 385 saves. His goal is to reach 400 saves and eventually surpass John Franco’s 424, becoming the all-time saves leader by a left-hander.
“I don’t want to end my career as a setup man,” Wagner said. “I’d like to have that option.”
For now, the Red Sox and Wagner seem to be in the middle of a Mexican standoff, one wanting for the other to drop its demands and the other wanting no demands at all.
Adding more intrigue is the fact that the Red Sox bullpen doesn’t appear to be very welcoming of having Wagner, even though Wagner appears to be a good fit being that Hideki Okajima is Boston’s only left-hander out of the bullpen.
“Wagner is an All-Star-caliber pitcher,” said Jonathan Papelbon, Boston’s all-star closer. “He’s a phenomenal pitcher. There’s no denying that. What I’m trying to get across is it’s just not that simple. It’s not that simple and cut and dry that we get Wagner and he’s in and somebody else is out.
“I don’t have any thoughts on somebody like him,” shot back Wagner. “I mean, when he walks in my shoes, then I’ll say something. Let him be 38 and have Tommy John and come back.”
Papelbon would later invoke the trade that brought Eric Gagne to the Red Sox in 2007. Boston brought in the former star closer in what looked to be a knockout deal but Gagne would struggle posting a 5.65 ERA in his 20 games with the Red Sox. Ignored by Papelbon was the fact that team hoisted a championship trophy that season.
So, we’ll know by Tuesday at 1:00 pm whether the Red Sox will have two talkative closers on their team throwing darts at opposing players, or if Wagner will be with the Mets so they can continue throwing darts at each other.