Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Braves Ink Wagner

With the Braves top two pitchers (Soriano and Gonzalez) in the bullpen set for arbitration, the Braves didn’t wait around to see if either or both would take another offer from another team. The Braves signed free agent closer Billy Wagner. Wagner, who ranks sixth in major league history with 385 saves, agreed to a one-year, $7 million contract with a vesting option for a second season. The left handed closer missed most of the 2009 season while recovering from ligament-transplant elbow surgery (Tommy John Surgery) in September 2008. Once Wagner returned this past season, he posted a 1.72 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 15-2/3 innings over 17 appearances. That is not too shabby!

Since the Braves have offered arbitration to both Soriano and Gonzalez, they could one hell of a bullpen. But it is unlikely that both or even one of those guys will accept the Braves offer and they will probably be with another team next year with multi year deals. If that happens, then the Braves stand to get two draft picks from the team that signs them. So if they both leave, the Braves would get 4 additional draft picks. Not a bad deal really!
Wagner, who is the third in total saves for active players behind Maraino Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, had a couple of reasons why he chose the Braves. He wanted to be closer to his home in Virginia and he also wanted to play for Braves Manager Bobby Cox. With this being Bobby’s last year as manager, he now doesn’t have to worry about who will be closing games for the Braves. That role is in good hands with Wagner.

Go Braves!

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