Billy Wagner Returns, Increases Trade Value

Not much as gone right for the New York Mets in 2009. Poor fundamental play, mediocre pitching (Mets’ pitchers lead baseball in walks), and most importantly injuries have derailed the Mets’ season.

Wagner was throwing heat last night

Wagner was throwing heat last night

Well, last night they may have caught a break in an otherwise dismal season, as former closer Billy Wagner returned to the mound last night against the Atlanta Braves.

Wagner, who was coming off  Tommy John surgery last September, came out firing last night. Wagner needed just 14 pitches (nine of them strikes) to retire Reid Gorecki, Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann. He struck out Gorecki and McCann.

The most impressive thing about Wagner’s performance last night was that he hit 96 mph on the gun at one point.

Wagner has cleared waivers, so the Mets have until September 1st to try to trade him. As long as the Mets pick up the remaining $3.5 million or so on Wagner’s contract, the Mets should find a suitor for the lefty.

Will the Mets get a top prospect for Wagner? Absolutely not. Teams aren’t going to give up a lot for a 38-year-old coming off major surgery. But for the Mets, getting one prospect back is better than getting nothing back for Wagner.

Here are the teams that I think would be a good fit for Wagner…

Florida Marlins – The Marlins have been looking for bullpen help all season and Wagner would give the Marlins another lefty in the pen to go along with Dan Meyer and Renyel Pinto.

The Mets have already traded with the Braves this year (Ryan Church for Jeff Francoeur), so trading within the division won’t be an obstacle.

Tampa Bay Rays – Former New York Yankee’s great Randy Choate has a 4.37 ERA and Brian Shouse has a 4.66 ERA. With JP Howell closing, the Rays could use another left-handed setup man.

Chicago Cubs – The Cubs already tried one former closer coming off surgery in BJ Ryan (released in July), so why not give Billy Wagner a try?

Minnesota Twins – There interest would really depend upon on how much they really think they are in it. They are 58-63, but only 6.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

If they think they are still in it, then Wagner makes a lot of sense. I have been saying forever the Twins need a power arm in the pen to get to Joe Nathan.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Anyone else find it strange the Angels have been so quiet on the trade front this season? They are usually one of the most aggressive teams when it comes to pursuing free agents and trades and yet we haven’t heard a peep from them about acquiring anyone.

I feel they still need another arm or two in the pen (13th in the AL in bullpen ERA) and if they decide to do something, Wagner makes a lot of sense for them.

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