The agent for relief pitcher Billy Wagner is reporting that his client may reverse his previous position and accept arbitration from the Red Sox, if offered.
This new stance represents a change of heart for the 38-year-old Wagner, who is just 15 saves from 400 career saves.
He waived his no-trade clause to accept a trade to the Red Sox prior to the trade deadline. In exchange the ball club promised they wouldn’t pick up his $8 million option for 2010—so he could pursue free agency this winter.
Originally, Wagner indicated that he wanted to pursue closing opportunities this offseason so that he could reach the 400-save plateau...but things have apparently changed.
Bean Stringfellow, Wagner’s agent, said yesterday that Wagner might be willing to return to the Red Sox in something other than the closer’s role:
“I just visited with Billy and his family the other day, and I can tell you this much—Billy thoroughly enjoyed his time in Boston. (Being in Boston) was one of the best experiences he ever had in baseball. So, does he rule out accepting arbitration? No, he doesn’t....
“One thing that’s important to him is the chance to win a championship, and that’s not a minor detail, and based upon his experience in Boston and his desire to win, to say he has completely ruled it out, certainly he has not.”
Based upon the rankings that were released this last week, Wagner is a Type A free agent; as such, any team that signs him will be required to provide the Red Sox with two draft picks.
The required compensation will likely diminish any interest that other teams will have in signing the southpaw. Thus the designation has greatly diminished his ability to earn a sizeable payday in free agency—a la Jason Varitek last winter.
Stringfellow added, “I fully anticipate (the Red Sox) offering him arbitration. Prior to meeting him the other day, if you had asked me would he accept arbitration, I would have said 100 percent no.”
Thus, it appears that given the options of playing for the Red Sox for a sizable paycheck and with a chance to win a championship or playing for another team, Wagner may prefer to remain in Boston after all.