Reports: Wagner nixes BoSox trade
Wagner, through his agent, Bean Stringfellow, told the Red Sox they had to guarantee they would decline his contract option for 2010 before he would approve a potential trade. Stringfellow also wanted the Red Sox to guarantee they won't offer Wagner salary arbitration this offseason, thus making him more attractive to potential suitors on the open market, because those teams wouldn't have to give up high draft picks as compensation for signing him.
I don't want to end my career as a setup man. I'd like to have that option.” -- Billy Wagner
According to FoxSports.com, a source late Monday said the Red Sox agreed to one of those conditions, promising they would decline Wagner's $8 million club option for 2010. Wagner has a no-trade clause in his contract, which includes the option for next year with a $1 million buyout. If his option is declined, he can become a free agent in the offseason and sign with any team.
However, a source told FoxSports.com late Monday the Red Sox were less willing to guarantee that they would decline to offer Wagner salary arbitration, making him a free agent without draft-pick compensation.
Wagner confirmed Monday that Boston, which already has an All-Star closer in Jonathan Papelbon, placed a waiver claim on him Friday. The fourth-place Mets have until Tuesday to pull him back off waivers or assign him to Boston for nothing in return.
If the Mets pull Wagner back, they can't trade him for the rest of the season. If they let him go to Boston, the Red Sox would be responsible for the nearly $3.5 million owed to Wagner under his current contract.
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After the Mets' 6-2 loss to Philadelphia on Monday, Wagner said he was set to travel with the team to Florida. New York begins a three-game series against the Marlins on Tuesday night.
"Right now I'm going to Florida. Unless something changes in Boston, I'm going to be a Met," he said. "They want me to set up. I'm too old to set up. I'd like to end my career as a closer."
The 38-year-old Wagner is sixth on the career list with 385 saves. He said he would like to reach 400 and then pass John Franco (424) for the most by a left-handed pitcher.
"I'd like to get at that level," Wagner said. "There's not many people in that 400 club."
Wagner wants to be a closer next season, regardless of which team he's on.
"I don't want to end my career as a set-up man," Wagner said. "I'd like to have that option."
Wagner was expected to miss the entire season following elbow ligament replacement surgery in September. He made a quick recovery and returned to the Mets on Thursday night, when he struck out two in a perfect inning against Atlanta and reached 96 mph with his fastball.
He pitched another scoreless inning against the Phillies on Monday.
In conversations with ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney on Sunday evening, sources raised the question of whether Wagner is at 100 percent.
A source told FoxSports.com on Monday, Wagner, coming off Tommy John surgery, also was concerned about his health.
"It's not about the option or arbitration. It's about his desire to end the year healthy for the future," the source said.
"He feels he has a better chance lasting a month in a less competitive environment than perhaps two months in a pennant race and playoffs."
Wagner is interested in ending the season with a playoff contender, but he's also looking farther down the road. He said he hasn't committed to pitching beyond next season.
"We haven't made any real plans. It's not going to be much longer," he said. "I kind of enjoy being around my family and my kids and coaching them, so it's not going to be very much longer. I mean, they've sacrificed enough."
Wagner doesn't expect to remain with the Mets next year. New York signed All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez to a $37 million, three-year contract last offseason.
"They're not going to pay $8 million to have me set up Frankie and they know that I wouldn't be satisfied," Wagner said. "They've expressed to me that they want what's best for me and they would like to help me out. They have a closer. They'd like to help me reach that goal. We just have to see if that comes to pass.
"I've enjoyed New York tremendously. I've had a blast playing here. It's just, I think my role is as a closer," he added. "Me getting hurt last year and them picking up Frankie, that just puts me in an odd situation and it's one of those that it's best to maybe move on."
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney was used in this report.