Big League Stew - MLB

With John Smoltz(notes) having taken his ball and game to St. Louis, the Red Sox were looking awful light on former NL pitchers who were coming off recent arm troubles.

No longer.

In a move designed to strengthen a recently struggling bullpen for the stretch run ahead, former Mets closer Billy Wagner is heading to Boston in exchange for two players to be named later. The deal puts am end to several days of drama, including Jonathan Papelbon(notes) wondering why Cletus Theo Epstein would drag Wagner's tired old bones to Boston and the left-handed reliever wielding his no-trade clause like a bludgeon.

As reported by our own Tim Brown, the Red Sox have agreed not to exercise Wagner's option for 2010 so that the 38-year-old Tommy John victim may pursue a free agent contract elsewhere. Since returning to the Mets on Aug. 20, Wagner has pitched two scoreless innings with four strikeouts and a velocity that has been clocked as high as 96 MPH.

The Red Sox are reported to be on the hook for about a combined $3 million in '09 salary and the '10 buyout, but that's really mere pennies for one of the sport's richest franchise. If Wagner can solidify the relieving corps en route to a successful run for the AL wild card — heck, if he can just avoid doing an '07 Eric Gagne(notes) impression — he'll be worth every dime.  

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