UPDATE (7:22 p.m.): Mets reliever Billy Wagner made his second appearance since returning from elbow surgery last September and struck out two in a hitless eighth inning. The Mets are set to begin a series with the Marlins. “My gut tells me I’m going to Florida now,” Wagner said after the game. “Unless something changes, I’ll probably be a Met.”
If Jonathan Papelbon still has any concerns about Billy Wagner replacing someone in the Red Sox’ bullpen, they may prove moot, since it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the 38-year-old lefthander will be coming to Boston.
According to a report by FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Red Sox chances of acquiring Wagner, whom they claimed on waivers from the Mets on Friday, are in “serious jeopardy” after the club rejected Wagner’s two conditions for waiving his no-trade clause.
Bean Stringfellow, Wagner’s agent, told Rosenthal that Wagner wants assurance that the Red Sox will not pick up his $8 million club option for next season. According to the report, Wagner also requested that the Red Sox not offer salary arbitration, thus making him a more appealing option as free agent since the team signing him would not be required to forfeit draft picks.
Wagner is currently projected to be a Type A free agent, meaning that any team that signed him would have to sacrifice two high draft picks as compensation.
Wagner received mostly positive reviews after returning to the Mets on Thursday following an 11-month rehabilitation after Tommy John surgery, though ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that talent evaluators for other teams wondered if he had a hard time getting loose in the bullpen.
He pitched a scoreless eighth inning today for the Mets versus Philadelphia in which he struck out two and walked one.
Wagner has 385 saves in his 15-year career. He told the Associated Press this afternoon that he wants to remain a closer next season, which is why he wants the option declined.
“I don’t want to end my career as a setup man,” Wagner said. “I’d like to have that option.”
Wagner, who ranks sixth on the all-times saves list, indicated one of his goals is to get to 400 saves, and perhaps even pass John Franco, who is first among lefthanders all time with 424 saves.
“I’d like to get at that level,” Wagner said. “There’s not many people in that 400 club.”
In his report, Rosenthal also speculated on the thought-process of the Red Sox and Mets at the moment as tomorrow’s 1 p.m. deadline approaches:
The Sox still might find Wagner appealing as a six-week rental even if they promised not to pick up his option or offer him arbitration. But their loss of 2010 control in accepting such conditions would diminish their willingness to part with a better prospect.
The Mets could save the nearly $3.5 million remaining on Wagner’s contract simply by allowing him to leave for the Red Sox. But if no deal is reached, they might prefer to pull him back from waivers, retaining the possibility of offering him arbitration and injecting two high picks into their depleted farm system.
At the moment, Wagner said he’s just waiting to see how it all plays out.
“Bean can’t talk to Boston, so he doesn’t know any more than I really know. So right now we’re just kind of in limbo,” Wagner said.
Nick Cafardo of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.