According to MLB Trade Rumors, Billy Wagner is considering accepting an arbitration deal from the BoSox because he “loved his experience with the Red Sox enough that’s it’s now a possibility.” That is an MLB Trade Rumors quote, not Wagner directly from Wagner’s mouth. However, it’s hard not to be skeptical of his sudden change of heart, as no one could love a city enough from four short weeks to make a complete 180 in their opinion of the team and their place within it.
If he were to stay, he would only close if Papelbon were moved, which was the primary reason Wagner didn’t want to be a Red Sock in 2010.
What seems to have happened is that Wagner’s agent, Bean Stringfellow, has realized that the market for high-priced relievers coming off Tommy John surgery is not what it once was – given the current state of the baseball economy and the number of non-tendered free agents that are expected to hit the market this off-season. He doesn’t want to take a significant pay cut to close, which is likely what would happen given his Type A tag. The Type A ranking is a killer nowadays for non-Holliday/Bay/Lackey-esque free agents – and an aging, recovering ex-closer does not fall into that upper echelon.
No, Wagner has not had a change of heart – his agent has just smartened up a bit.
Varitek’s Player Option Due at Midnight
***UPDATE: Varitek has officially picked up his $3 million player option.
As we continue to follow the Jason Varitek story, his contract is undergoing more flip-flopping than a Brett Favre retirement or Florida in the 2000 presidential election. Is he or isn’t he? We’ll find out before the end of the day, though the verdict is still out as to whether it would be better for him to re-sign. Sure, he struggles against the running game and can’t hit right-handers. However, he’s the team Captain, has provided the Boston faithful with years of great service, and it would be great for the city and for Varitek to see him retire in a Sox uniform.
As a slightly overpriced backup catcher, I’ll root for the signing under the condition that he only bats against lefties and is explicitly the backup. No exceptions.
Mauer Extension Talks Begin
While all of Boston awaits the man of our dreams… er, catcher of our dreams leaving Minnesota for our nightly NESN living room broadcast, agent Ron Shapiro is beginning to discuss a contract extension for his all-world catcher.
While the Twins will have to pony up quite a bit more than they would like to retain their franchise player, there are few players more valuable than Joe Mauer.
Everyone paying attention to the Sox’ off-season should stop what their doing to call Minnesota and beg them to let him walk – or at least clog the phone lines so Shapiro can’t get through.
But, now that the moment is upon us, we need to ask ourselves one question – do we extend V-Mart now, before the big domino falls and his price goes up? Or, do we wait and see on Mauer, hoping we can land the big fish on the open market?
And, as an aside, if you’re curious about the details of baseball contract negotiations, check out Shapiro’s book, The Power of Nice: How to Negotiate So Everyone Wins – Especially You! From the man who represented Mauer, Cal Ripken Jr., Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Kirby Puckett, and Eddie Murray, the book is an excellent read and one your shouldn’t miss.
And, lastly, every time I see an Al Davis/Tom Cable/Oakland Raiders update on ESPN, it makes me all the more grateful that Boston has John Henry as an owner. Commanding the team at a nice professional distance, he gives our manager and GM space to do their jobs without distractions or restrictions. Thanks, John.