Billy Wagner is on his way to the Boston Red Sox, leaving the New York Mets for the chance to pitch in a pennant race as a setup man for All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon.
After a few days of back-and-forth talks about Wagner’s future, the depleted Mets traded the left-handed reliever to the Red Sox on Tuesday for two players to be named.
The AL wild card leaders had claimed Wagner on waivers, and the teams worked out a deal that persuaded Wagner to waive his no-trade clause. Wagner’s main motivation, according to agent Bean Stringfellow, was his “overwhelming desire to pitch in a pennant race.”
“He woke up and decided he wanted to join a team in the middle of a pennant race to have a chance to pitch in October and to have a chance to get a ring, which he’s never done,” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. “There were some ups and downs and turns in the decision, but in the end he told us he woke up today and really wanted a chance to win a World Series, and came here for all the right reasons.”
Boston agreed not to pick up his $8 million option for next season, Stringfellow said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. The Red Sox can still offer salary arbitration to Wagner in the offseason, Stringfellow said, meaning they would be entitled to draft picks as compensation if he signs elsewhere.
The 38-year-old Wagner will join the team in Boston on Thursday.
Papelbon has 29 saves in 32 opportunities this season, with a 2.04 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 53 innings. He had been protective of his role and publicly lukewarm to the idea of Wagner joining the bullpen, but the 28-year-old righty called Wagner to make him feel welcome and said Tuesday that he was not bothered by the deal.
The Red Sox entered the night seven games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and 11/2 games up on the Texas Rangers in the wild card race.
“I’m happy for him to get an opportunity with a team that seems headed to the postseason,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “He should do well.”
Wagner ranks sixth all-time with 385 career saves, and wants to finish out his career as a closer. He’s not likely to get that chance this year with Boston; then again, he hasn’t gotten to pitch in the World Series, either.
“He wanted to be part of a pennant race,” Mets general manager Omar Minaya said on a conference call. “We were able to get a couple of prospects for him. We felt it was the right thing to do.”
Santana facing surgery
Mets ace left-hander Johan Santana needs surgery for bone chips in his left elbow and out for the season.
The team said its 30-year-old ace is expected to be ready for spring training next year.
Mets general manager Omar Minaya said Santana was evaluated around the All-Star break, adding that the injury worsened in recent weeks, especially after his last start.
The team also said Tuesday that reliever J.J. Putz has been shut down for the season after an MRI revealed “some new fraying and a slight tear” in his right forearm. The Mets said the former Mariners closer will not need surgery and it is merely a preventative measure.
Rays outfielder Carl Crawford was held out of the lineup Tuesday night with muscle tightness in his lower back and is likely to miss another game. Crawford is batting .316 with 12 homers and 59 RBI for the Rays, who are fighting for the wild card playoff berth. … The Rockies have placed center fielder Dexter Fowler on the 15-day disabled list with a deep bone bruise on his right knee and recalled Eric Young Jr. from Triple-A Colorado Springs. … Padres right-hander Mike Adams has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain.