Mets have option for 2006; Aybar designated
To make room for Graves, the Mets designated reliever Manny Aybar for assignment.
Graves has 182 saves, including 10 this year, in 10 major league seasons. But he struggled with a 7.76 ERA and was designated for assignment by the Reds on May 23, a day after making an obscene gesture at a fan who was heckling him.
He arrived in New York for workouts this week and was in limbo as his agent negotiated a contract. The team had a jersey with his name and number on it and Graves had settled into a corner locker well before the contract was finalized. Each day, he would leave the ballpark before the game.
"It's been strange," he said.
Graves, 31, is in the final year of a $17.25 million deal which pays him $6.25 million this year. The Mets are responsible for a prorated portion of the contract. There is a team option for next year with a buyout clause.
"We were negotiating what the number of that option would be," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "It was pretty much done a day or so ago."
Graves said the 2006 option was important.
"Other teams I talked to pretty much made it clear it was for the rest of this year," he said. "I'm not at the point in my career to bounce around."
He called his signing with the Mets "a new chapter, not a second chance."
"I don't think I was on the way out of the major leagues," he said. "I just got off to a bad start."
Minaya said he thought Graves was worth a look.
"In our situation, with our bullpen, it was worth the risk to bring him on," Minaya said. "We hope things straighten out for him. It is a team option. We hope next year we can consider picking up the option. Danny's always been a command, control guy. Maybe he needed a change of scenery. We felt it was worth bringing him on board."
Graves said players told him he was tipping his pitches and that he thought he could correct that problem. He said he'd be happy with any role with the Mets.
"Closing is not important," he said. "I've had my time as a closer. If I never close again, I'm OK with that."
Aybar, 32, appeared in 22 games with the Mets, his seventh major league team. He was 0-0 with a 6.04 ERA and sealed his fate when he gave up two hits, three walks and five runs in one inning in Friday night's 12-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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