Billy Wagner told manager Bobby Cox that he intends to retire at the end of the season, reports Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Braves inked the 38-year-old southpaw to a one-year, $7 million contract over the winter. The deal includes a vesting option for 2011, something Wagner says the Braves simply “threw in.”
“I wanted a chance at 400, and that’s great,” Wagner said. “If it
happens this year, great, if not, then so be it. Just try to make this
one of those years to really enjoy and have a good time and maybe win a
championship along the way. Plus Bobby, he’s always meant a lot to me,
growing up. To play my final year and him being his final year – it was
the right timing.”
Wagner starts Friday’s action with 386 career saves — currently sixth all-time. Barring injury, he should be a lock for 400 saves, although it should be mentioned that he has only had two save chances in April, of which he is 1-for-2.
When looking at Wagner’s place in history, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better left-handed relief pitcher. Wagner boasts a 2.39 ERA and 1.01 WHIP during his 16-year career, averaging an eye-popping 11.8 K/9. I guess you could throw John Franco, Sparky Lyle, Jesse Orosco and former Tigers’ left-hander John Hiller in the discussion, but Wagner sits at the top of my ballot.