And I’m not just saying that because I’m a Braves fan. MLB.com’s Braves expert Mark Bowman thinks so too, reporting that Wagner’s agent has been in contact with Atlanta and making the excellent point that, though signing Wagner may very well cost a team a first round pick, the Braves are unique in that their need at closer will be occasioned by losing two relievers — Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez — each of whom will bring a similar compensation pick in return.
More generally, Wagner is the kind of guy Bobby Cox and the Braves brass loves: older and lower maintenance. He’s coming off of surgery sure, but at a point in his career where there isn’t a huge need for Cox to baby him. He makes more sense in Atlanta than just about anyplace else.
Bowman cites Fernando Rodney as a fallback option, but after the John Rocker and Mark Wholers eras, I’m pretty sure that Bobby Cox swore off of wild things with great gas. It’s a health thing. Both mental health and cardiovascular health. Bobby’s old now and doesn’t need any more 20-pitch ninth innings than are absolutely necessary.
In a less-notable move on Friday, the Rays acquired right-hander Wilmer Font from the Athletics in exchange for minor league right-hander Peter Bayer. Font was designated for assignment by the A’s on Wednesday.
This is the second trade involving the righty since the start of the season. The Athletics acquired 28-year-old Font from the Dodgers in late April, but were underwhelmed by his performance after he racked up 11 runs, five home runs, four walks and nine strikeouts in his first 6 2/3 innings of relief. While the rookie has yet to prove himself at the big league level, he posted a much more respectable pitching line with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017, going 10-8 in 25 starts with a 3.42 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 11.9 SO/9 in 134 1/3 innings. It’s still unclear whether the Rays intend to give him another opportunity in the majors this year or use him as depth in the minors.
Bayer, 24, is still a ways away from cracking any major league roster. He advanced to High-A Charlotte prior to the trade and allowed eight runs, two homers, six walks and six strikeouts in his first four innings.