Red Sox Land Wagner
In the culmination of a deal that was on and off again more often than Mariah Carey changes clothes, Mets reliever Billy Wagner has, in fact, joined the Red Sox for two players to be named later. The deal was confirmed first by Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman on his Twitter feed, with the same outlet and source pushing along the story there all day, just hours after Wagner had reportedly rejected the proposed trade because of health concerns and a desire to not be offered arbitration in an offseason bent on landing another job as a closer.
Wagner could be an intriguing addition to the Red Sox, who have used a strong bullpen as one of the team's main supports throughout the season. The longtime Phillies and Mets closer is just coming off Tommy John surgery and has serious health concerns about his own durability. The Boston Globe's Tony Massarotti cited those elbow concerns as the primary reason for Wagner rejecting a Red Sox deal last night, though his concern over his future desirability in free agency -- he's likely to be considered a Type A free agent this offseason -- also weighed heavily into Wagner's considerations.
So, why the sudden change in heart from the reliever? Well, according to Heyman's Twitter feed (it was awfully active today, huh?), the Mets reached out to Wagner to "try to talk some sense into him," essentially convincing him to accept the deal as a way to join a team in a pennant race. And while the two players to be named that Boston will send to New York are said to be mid-level minor leaguers, Boston will still be in line to receive two compensatory draft picks for Wagner should the Red Sox offer arbitration and Wagner signs with another team.
While Wagner's arrival should bolster both power pitching and depth in Boston's bullpen, it may also jar one of baseball's most harmonious bullpens. When the potential "Wagner to Boston" waiver deal was first discussion last week, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon openly questioned why the team would add Wagner. The now perennial All-Star closer asked what Wagner had done this year, and even said, "It's kind of like the Gagne thing, I guess."
As you might expect, that tune has changed within the past day, with Papelbon endorsing the move as a way for Boston to get better. We'll see if any sparks fly when the two first meet up, but the quotes Papelbon gave to NESN.com some 18 hours before the deal were straight out of a love-in.
"Believe me, there's nobody else on this team that wants that guy in our bullpen more than me."
"He's a competitor, and I see a lot of myself in him. For me, having him down there in our bullpen is not only going to make me better, it will make the rest of our bullpen better. He's going to bring a professionalism and competitiveness to our bullpen that every bullpen could use. Believe me, I want this guy more than anybody on our team."
August 25, 2009; 1:40 PM ET
Categories: Mets , Red Sox | Tags: Billy Wagner, Jonathan Papelbon, Mets, Red Sox, trade
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