Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wagner Signs One Year Deal With Braves

Veteran relief pitcher Billy Wagner has signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Braves worth $7 million.

The 38-year-old southpaw spent most of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery but came back far sooner than anyone expected. With Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez enconsed as the New York Mets closer, Wagner was dealt to the Boston Red Sox for two minor league players in late August. Working as Jonathan Papelbon's set up man, Wagner went 1-1 with 1.98 ERA. He struck out 22 batters in only 13 and two thirds innings pitched.

Despite his advanced age and Tommy John surgery, Wagner still has the ability and has something to prove. Wagner has 385 career saves but has never pitched in a World Series. With 2010 being Bobby Cox's last year at the helm of the Braves they are a team I am watching very, very closely. With a healthy starting rotation of Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens and rookie Tommy Hanson and Wagner coming into the game in the 9th I like the Braves chances in the NL East next season.

It will be interesting to see if the Braves try to re-sign Rafael Soriano. He was their closer in 2009 saving 27 games. But I think he's better suited to pitching the 8th inning. If Soriano's committed to closing out games then he'll be pitching elsewhere in 2010. The question is would Soriano rather pitch the 8th inning on a championship team or the 9th inning on a last place team? The same could be asked of Mike Gonzalez who had 10 saves with the Braves last season. If Gonzalez and Soriano could be the bridge to Wagner their pitching would be second to none. All they would need is one more bat. Can you say Matt Holliday or Jason Bay?

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