Glavine returns to Braves with 1-year, $8M contract

Updated: November 19, 2007, 9:26 AM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Tom Glavine is coming home.

The 303-game winner returned to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, agreeing to an $8 million, one-year contract.

Neyer: Glavine Home Again

Tom Glavine is back in Atlanta and Rob Neyer is glad to see the future Hall of Famer back where he belongs. Blog Insider
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The agreement between the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner and the Braves was hammered out during weekend talks, said Glavine's agent, Gregg Clifton. The pitcher already has taken a physical for Atlanta, the final formality in the deal.

The Braves needed less than a week to lure Glavine back after an acrimonious split in 2002 that led to him spending five seasons with the New York Mets. His old -- make that new -- team was expected to formally introduce him at a news conference Monday at Turner Field.

"While Tom is disappointed to be leaving New York and all of his friends and teammates there, he has an opportunity to go back to Atlanta to continue his career with the Braves," Clifton told The Associated Press. "Ultimately, as everyone knows, Tom's decision was tremendously influenced by the importance of his family being paramount in his life."

Glavine, who is married and has four children, kept his primary home in suburban Atlanta even after he signed with the Mets, and it was clear the crafty left-hander wanted to finish his career with the Braves when he turned down a $13 million option to return to New York in 2008, taking a $3 million buyout.

He then gave the Braves a bit of a hometown discount, something he wasn't willing to do five years ago. The contract includes no performance bonuses.

Frank Wren, the Braves' new general manager, held his first talks with Clifton on Wednesday in Phoenix. Two days later, the Braves made their initial offer and Clifton reacted positively, a sure sign that a deal wouldn't take long to reach.

The Braves were eager to add depth to a rotation that relied heavily on John Smoltz and Tim Hudson and never settled on reliable options in the fourth and fifth slots. In addition to landing Glavine, they hope for a return to health by Mike Hampton, who missed the last two seasons with injuries. He has started another rehab stint in the Arizona Fall League.

In With The Old

Tom Glavine, who will be 42 by the time next season opens, would need to pitch beyond 2008 to move up among the top five winningest left-handers of all time.

Hefty Lefties
  Wins
Warren Spahn 363
Steve Carlton 329
Eddie Plank 326
Glavine 303
Lefty Grove 300

Glavine, who will turn 42 before the start of next season, went 13-8 with a 4.45 ERA in 200 1/3 innings for the Mets this year.

The loss of Glavine to an NL East rival leaves New York looking for another starter to add to its rotation. Free agent Livan Hernandez is a possibility, and the Mets also hope to make a trade pitch for Minnesota ace Johan Santana if the Twins decide they can't re-sign him.

Glavine came up to the Braves in 1987, part of an impressive class of young pitchers that also included Smoltz and Steve Avery. Those three helped the Braves to a remarkable worst-to-first turnaround in 1991, when Atlanta made it all the way to Game 7 of a memorable World Series before losing to Minnesota.

Glavine won the first of his two Cy Young awards with the Braves in '91, which also was the first of five 20-win seasons he had the team. He won a career-best 22 games in 1993, and added another Cy Young award in 1998 when he went 20-6.

The Braves won 11 of their record 14 straight division titles with Glavine on the mound, and he was the MVP of their only World Series championship during that run, a six-game triumph over the Cleveland Indians in 1995.

Glavine won two games in that series, including a 1-0 triumph in Game 6. He allowed only on hit in eight innings before Mark Wohlers got the final three outs.

Getting by with pinpoint control and a devastating changeup, Glavine seemed destined to spend his entire career in Atlanta. But he refused to take an offer with millions in deferred payments and not as much guaranteed money after going 18-11 with a 2.96 ERA in 2002.

Signing a four-year, $42.5 million contract with the Mets, Glavine failed to match the numbers he put up in Atlanta. He went 9-14 in 2003, his first losing season since 1990, and never won more than 15 games with the Mets.

He did get another chance to pitch in the postseason in 2006, going six scoreless innings to win a division series game against Los Angeles and seven scoreless innings for another win in Game 1 of the NL championship series against St. Louis.

Glavine took the loss in Game 5, and the Mets fell to the Cardinals in seven games. Shortly afterward, he re-signed with the Mets, never getting a hoped-for offer from the Braves, who didn't have enough money under their reduced payroll to make a serious bid.

Atlanta is in more of a spending mood this winter after deciding not to re-sign Gold Glove center fielder Andruw Jones and dealing shortstop Edgar Renteria to Detroit for prospects.

Glavine joined the 300-win club on Aug. 5 with a win over the Cubs, but his final start in New York was abysmal: The lefty allowed seven runs in the first inning, getting only one out in the second-shortest start of his career.

The 8-1 loss to Florida in the regular-season finale completed the Mets' historic September collapse, giving the NL East title to Philadelphia.

Glavine decided he didn't want to go out like that, and any thoughts of retirement were abandoned when the Braves called.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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