My only gripe with expecting too much from Wagner would be his ability to pitch back-to-back days or stay healthy over a full season. While it looked like he was fine toward the end of the 2009 season, I can’t help but think that during his age 38/39 season and coming off major arm surgery (at that age) he’ll be limited or fatigued at some point if not land on the DL.
Over/Under on Drew Storen getting 10-15 saves with the Nats in 2010?
I think there’s too much bad blood between the Phillies and Wagner to see a return. Either the Phillies will not consider him or he won’t consider the Phillies or both.
Comment by The A Team — November 3, 2009 @ 11:15 am
The team that makes the most sense to me is the Cubs. They’ve gotta feel their window is closing, they can afford to spend, and they could use a bullpen upgrade (or a “proven closer”, if you prefer to look at it like that). I agree the Phillies are a non-starter – too much bad blood.
I think that if Wagner isn’t a Type A, the Orioles make a lot of sense for him. They have the local ties and are in the market for a closer with Johnson struggling. They have over $30 million coming off the payroll, prospects they don’t want to block at first and third, and a weak free agent market which will lead to their not spending huge sums of money elsewhere. MacPhail and Trembley have spoken repeatedly about the importance of improving the bullpen and having a solid closer now that Tillman, Matusz and the rest of the young pitching is in the majors. And Wagner might be expensive, but will be a one year contract which if he does well can be moved at the deadline.
I can’t see the O’s giving up their second round pick for Wagner, but I can’t really see anyone else giving up a pick for him either. But if he isn’t offered arb, I see Baltimore as an ideal destination for Wagner.
Comment by James Feldman — November 3, 2009 @ 1:30 pm
Yes, Baltimore needs a closer. But, wouldn’t they rather have a back end of the bullpen they can build around with their staff? If they aren’t going to contend for the AL East crown, why spend the money on a closer?
Well, long term, they are probably going to build the back end of the bullpen from within. I suspect that either Arrieta or Erbe is the eventual closer in Baltimore, unless Ray returns to his 2007 form (which is unlikely). Uehara is another internal option, but is a free agent after 2010 and is also an older player who isn’t a long-term solution.
As for the why, the question is more of “Why not?” The payroll is going to be at roughly $40 million after arbitration. There aren’t any major offensive improvements that the Orioles can make via free agency at positions of need. But while the O’s can’t contend for the AL East crown, they can have a .500 season, demonstrate they are a team on the verge of contention to 2010 free agents and Baltimore fans, and build the confidence of their young players. Even if they spent $10 million on Wagner (which is more than he’ll cost), they could give out a Strasburg-sized bonus to the third pick in the draft, sign Wieters to a Markakis-level long-term deal, and still be below their 2009 payroll.
We can debate the value of winning ten or fifteen more games to the Orioles franchise, and I’d probably agree with you to an extent. But the Orioles are almost certain to add a reliever who they feel could close regardless, based on their public statements. And Wagner seems to prefer a chance to close for a non-contender than he does playing for a winning team in 2010.
Comment by James Feldman — November 3, 2009 @ 1:49 pm
I agree that he’d rather close on a bad team then be the setup man for a good one (I don’t understand why, but whatever). I just think that the Orioles would be better off giving Johnson and Ray another chance.
What about pursuing Chad Cordero? He’s still young (28), and the Mariners won’t pay too much to keep him rehabbing if they don’t think he’ll be ready sometime early next season.
I’d be fine with them pursuing Chad Cordero, although the problem there is that if he isn’t healthy enough for Seattle, he probably isn’t healthy enough to pitch effectively for the O’s.
I think Wagner wants to close on a bad team for two reasons: first, because he thinks he has a shot at the HOF, and second, because this season showed him that he can establish himself as a closer again on a bad team and get dealt to a contender at the deadline to close in the playoffs. Wagner would be closing right now for the Phillies, and would have closed games for the Angels and Cards too in all likelihood. And I think that would be part of the appeal to the Orioles or a similar team as well; Johnson and Ray get another chance, but get to spend half the season in a setup role again reestablishing themselves and gives them time to try and keep David Hernandez, Arrieta and Erbe as starters. Plus, you get to deal Wagner as a player on a one-year deal to a contender at the deadline, which should net you a decent prospect. The Orioles get four months of an improved bullpen and a prospect for five million dollars or so. Wagner gets a four month audition to playoff teams as a closer. Wagner also sees how long people like Hoffman, Eckersley, Smoltz, and Rivera have remained successful and is thinking about his contract and options for 2011. Closing in 2010 gives him the best shot at having good options in 2011 and beyond.
I am emphasizing the upside and minimizing the downside, of course. Wagner could also not want to pitch in the AL East so his numbers look better. The Orioles would probably be better off spending $20 million on Chapman, or maybe even spending $100 million on Lackey. They could really be smart, and instead of spending the money on free agents entirely, spend a record amount of money on scouting, international signings, and the draft. But I don’t think they are likely to do those things, and I do think they are likely to pursue a free agent reliever. And I think there are clearly potential benefits to both Wagner and the O’s for them to sign him to a one year deal for no more than $8 million, and that such a move comes with a relatively low amount of risk.
Comment by James Feldman — November 3, 2009 @ 2:38 pm
I believe I heard that Wagner had retired?
Comment by Hanson is the man,son — November 3, 2009 @ 4:21 pm
Initially he said he was, but his agent denied it and said it was false.