Wagner scheduled to arrive in Atlanta today

With last year’s forgettable episodes with Rafael Furcal and Jake Peavy in the rear view mirror, Braves general manager Frank Wren has found the start of this year’s offseason to be much smoother and satisfying. 

Realizing the strong possibility that Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano will be pitching elsewhere next year, Wren set his sights on Billy Wagner and the accomplished closer now finds himself looking forward to the opportunity to play for Bobby Cox in Atlanta. 

Multiple Major League sources have confirmed that Wagner has agreed to the terms of the one-year, $7 million offer made by the Braves.  The offer includes a $6.5 million option for the 2011 season that would vest if Wagner finishes 50 games next year.

Wagner was expected to arrive in Atlanta on Wednesday morning to undergo a physical.  If his travel isn’t affected by the heavy rain that is currently soaking  the Atlanta area, the deal could officialy be announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Interest in Wagner grew when he made a successful return from Tommy
John elbow reconstruction surgery during the final two months of this
past season.  In  17 combined appearances with the Mets and Red Sox, he
posted a 1.72 ERA, limited opponents to a 1.72 ERA and recorded 26
strikeouts over 15 2/3 innings.  
 
Wagner comes to Atlanta with the intent to enhance his already-impressive credentials.  The 38-year-old reliever’s 385 career saves rank sixth on Major League Baseball’s all-time list.  He stands 39 saves shy of matching the record that John Franco set for left-handed closers.   

Now that Wren has started his offseason with Tim Hudson’s contract extension and the acquisition of Wagner, the next big move could invole the trade of either Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez.  But it still seems like this deal may have to wait until John Lackey decides where he’ll pitch next year.

 

15 Comments

It’ll be nice to have someone with more of a proven track record on the back end of the bullpen. Combine that with Medlen in middle relief and we’ve got a pretty decent foundation to build from. I just hope he doesn’t turn into another Wickman.

Dan, I don’t think you have to worry about that. As you mentioned, Wagner’s credentials prove he has an outstanding track record.

Kolb’s track record consisted of two solid seasons amid the non-pressure situations that existed in Milwaukee.

Wagner thrived under pressure in New York and Philly. As for his health, we’ve heard pitchers recovering from TJ regain their strength approx. 18 months after the surgery. Wagner will reach this point in March.

I’m pretty excited about having Wagner on the team. It’ll be good to be back to having a definite closer, and not the closer-by-committee with Soriano/Gonzo. Though I am sorry to see those guys go.

Mark, you wrote that the Braves will now be looking for a reliable setup man. Don’t you think we already have that with Moylan? Or do you think Bobby will want to use him as the workhorse again this year?

Wagner deal is official. Press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Good question about the “reliable setup man”. I think I should first say that I do think that Moylan has the stuff to be a reliable top setup guy. In fact, I see the guy as a potential closer.

But given that he is coming off a pair of 80-appearance seasons that were separated by the Tommy John surgical procedure that caused him to miss the 2008 season.

My thought is that you at least have to look at gaining one of these available veteran relievers to at least take some of the load that you can bet Cox will once again ask Moylan to shoulder this year.

I read somewhere that there’s a possibility that Schafer might be included in a deal. Do you think that he might be dealt in a deal with Vazquez or Lowe? Or in any deal? I think it would be foolish to trade him, especially when his value is probably at its lowest.

Agreed. We haven’t had a true leadoff man since Furcal left, and we haven’t had a true cleanup hitter since Andruw went down the toilet. And our outfield has been generally slow and powerless until McLouth showed up. We possibly have 2 guys in the system who could fix both of those problems by 2011. An outside chance by 2010. And they would give us some serious financial flexibility. Since we dealt Gorkys Hernandez it would be insane to trade Schafer, unless we got a young player who has already lived up to the potential that he has. The McLouth/Schafer/Heyward outfield sounds pretty good to me.

I wouldn’t feel safe dealing Schafer for anyone at this point. We didn’t get to see much of what he’s capable of last year (maybe 5 games of the real Jordan Schafer before his wrist injury). If Heyward turns into the 25-30 HR, 15-20 SB he seems to easily have the potential to be, and McLouth doesn’t mind moving to LF, by 2011, the Braves outfield could be, left to right, McLouth/Schafer/Heyward. Thats a trio of very reasonably priced guys who all easily have the ability to go 20/20 on a yearly basis. Plus, when you can say Nate McLouth is your least-skilled defender (plus plus range, below average arm), your outfield can cover some serious ground and save you a lot of runs.

shaunson. I actually wrote mine after you but posted before yours. happens sometimes in here.

Heh, didn’t read vivabeta’s comment til after I wrote mine. So I guess I could have saved some time and just said “I agree”.

Wagner a Brave… I never saw this one coming in my wildest dreams.

RE: the outfield discussion… that’s an outfield of all lefty batters. When’s the last time that happened?

Mark,
Have you heard anything more about a Kelly Johnson trade that you mention earlier?

I heard Kelly Johnson for Adrian Gonzalez. Straight up.

Yeah, but I heard that deal is being held up because Jake Peavy called Gonzalez and told him that he doesn’t believe the Braves have a bright future.

Winboj, I haven’t heard anything specific about KJ. I have just heard that there are some teams that are interested. I certainly wouldn’t expect much in return and if I had to guess, I figure he might end up being non-tendered.

I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Schafer being included in a trade. But it’s not like the Braves are actively shopping him.

I keep thinking how big of a bullet the Braves dodged on that Peavy trade. We probably would’ve signed Furcal, but imagine how the outfield would’ve looked if we weren’t able to trade for McLouth. And we probably would’ve given up Medlen. UGH.

Thanks for the update! Yeah, I heard that Michigan was asking West Virginia to take back Rich Rodriquez.

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