Agent explains Wagner's nixing trade

Updated: August 25, 2009, 1:00 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Besides contract issues, another major reason Billy Wagner is declining a move to the Red Sox is because the Mets reliever is only supposed to pitch once every three days at this point in his rehab, Wagner's agent told 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand.

"This is a factor, you can't overcome," agent Bean Stringellow said.

Stringfellow says that Wagner is currently in his 11th month of rehab and, "You are not out of the woods until 14 months."

Stringfellow believes it is unfair that Wagner is receiving criticism for turning down the deal when Wagner wouldn't even be in this position if he hadn't pushed his rehab so thoroughly.

However, as the deadline approached at 1 p.m. ET, the Red Sox and the Wagner were in negotiations in the final minutes, in an attempt to work out a deal, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

Wagner, through 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.

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.

The fourth-place Mets have until Tuesday to pull Wagner 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.

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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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