After days of wrangling with the New York Mets and their former closer, the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday acquired lefty Billy Wagner(notes) in an attempt to fortify their bullpen and – if not catch the New York Yankees in the American League East – hold off the Texas Rangers in the AL wild-card race.
After suggesting he'd block a trade to Boston because he is in the late stages of recovery from Tommy John surgery and would like to finish his career as a closer, Wagner waived his no-trade clause and apparently will set up Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon(notes).
The Red Sox agreed not to exercise the 2010 option on Wagner's contract ($8 million, $1 million buyout) in order to consummate the trade. They announced Tuesday that they'd sent the Mets two players to be named later in exchange for Wagner, who has made two scoreless appearances with the Mets and told reporters recently he shouldn't throw more often than once every three days.
The 38-year-old Wagner has 385 career saves, good for sixth on the all-time list.
Criticized for apparently turning down a chance to leave the moribund Mets to join a pennant race, Wagner joins a Red Sox bullpen that leads the American League with a 3.64 ERA. Over the weekend, when it was reported that Boston had claimed Wagner on waivers, Papelbon seemed unhappy with the prospects of adding the established closer.
The bullpen had its worst month in August, when its ERA was 5.55 – nearly double what it was in July.