Billy Wagner retired after the 2010 season despite coming off one of his best years, saving 37 games with a 1.43 ERA in 69 innings for the Braves, and Mark Hale of the New York Post reports that the Phillies recently tried to talk the now 40-year-old left-hander out of retirement.
Wagner declined, telling them: “I do not have an itch. I’m done. I’ve got a major role on a JV baseball team. I’m JV baseball coach.”
According to Hale the contact with Wagner came shortly after the regular season and well before the Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million deal.
It’s unclear if the Phillies viewed Wagner as a closer or as a setup man, but the best left-handed reliever of all time hinted that several other teams also reached out to him during the season. His agent had been instructed to turn down all offers.
Wagner pitched for the Phillies in 2004 and 2005, throwing 126 innings with a 1.86 ERA and 59 saves.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.