Dodgers decline $12 million option on closer Gagne

Updated: November 3, 2006, 7:40 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Eric Gagne's $12 million option was declined Friday by the Los Angeles Dodgers, making the former NL Cy Young Award winner a free agent.

The Dodgers will pay $1 million to buy out the final year of Gagne's contract, but could attempt to re-sign him at a lower guaranteed salary. Gagne had filed provisionally for free agency on Tuesday.

Gagne had season-ending surgery July 8 to repair a herniated disc in his lower back. He is expected to be healthy and ready to pitch when spring training begins in mid-February.

Gagne was limited to 14 games and eight saves in 2005 and two outings with one save this year. He had surgery in April to remove a nerve from his pitching elbow -- the same arm that required elbow-ligament replacement surgery in 1997.

Gagne became a closer in 2002 and was an immediate success, saving 52 games that year, a franchise-record 55 in 2003 and 45 in 2004. He set a major league record with 84 consecutive saves from late 2002 to mid-2004.

He won the NL Cy Young Award in 2003, when he went 2-3 with a 1.20 ERA and 55 saves, two shy of the record Bobby Thigpen set with the Chicago White Sox in 1990.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press