Bye, bye Bagwell: Astros officially part ways with 1B

Updated: October 31, 2006, 7:17 PM ET news services

HOUSTON -- Jeff Bagwell's $18 million option was declined Tuesday by the Houston Astros, who will give their career home run and RBI leader a $7 million buyout to complete an $85 million, five-year contract.

Jeff Bagwell career highlights
• Astros' career leader in home runs (449), RBI (1,529) and runs (1,517).
• 1994 NL MVP when he hit .368 with 39 home runs and 116 RBI in just 110 games of the strike-shortened season.
• 1991 NL Rookie of the Year when he hit .294 with 15 home runs and 82 RBI in 156 games.
• 1994 NL Gold Glove winner.
• .297 career batting average in 15 big-league seasons.

To learn more about Jeff Bagwell, click here.

The 38-year-old Bagwell missed last season because of an arthritic right shoulder, and the Astros tried to recoup about $15.6 million in insurance.

"It doesn't mean anything at all," Bagwell told Fox 26 in Houston. "Everyone knew this was going to happen. It is part of the business. I'm OK with it. This is not a sad day."

When asked if this move meant he was going to retire, Bagwell replied, "No it does not. Not at this time. I am not ready to say that.

"It is probably an end to a great chapter in my life. I had a great career. The Astros have been nothing but great to me."

Bagwell's agent, Barry Axelrod, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that Bagwell is "a long shot" to ever play again. But Axelrod said Bagwell isn't ready to officially retire.

"That's going to be up to Jeff to decide and announce finally," Axelrod said. "His health has not allowed him to compete the way he'd like to compete. I would think that would be a real long shot for him to even think about trying to do it anymore."

Houston general manager Tim Purpura hinted that Bagwell could remain with the team in another capacity, saying Bagwell would discuss with his wife what level of involvement he wants with the Astros.

"As I've told Jeff, he can have an impact in so many different ways," Purpura said. "I'd love to see him work with young players."

Said owner Drayton McLane, "We would love for Jeff to be part of the Houston Astros."

Bagwell, who has 449 home runs and 1,529 RBI, was the Astros' first baseman on Opening Day from 1991-2005. A four-time All-Star and the 1994 NL MVP, he is the only first baseman with 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases.

Bagwell, who hit .297 over his career, is one of nine players in NL history to win an MVP and rookie of the year awards. Only Craig Biggio, who has been with the Astros for 19 years, has been with the club longer.

Bagwell made an unsuccessful comeback attempt in spring training after pinch-hitting in the 2005 playoffs and then working as designated hitter in the first two games of the World Series. He started several spring games at first base but had to leave early in two of them because of soreness in his shoulder.

In January, the Astros filed a claim to get back most of the $17 million Bagwell was owed last year after deeming him too injured to play. When the claim was denied by Connecticut General Life Insurance, the Astros sued the company in April.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.