Braves remove retired Wagner from 40-man roster

The Braves released Billy Wagner from their 40-man roster Wednesday, resolving a paper-pushing issue that’s been looming since the 39-year-old closer announced he was retiring at the end of last season.

The issue was complicated, Braves general manager Frank Wren said, because Wagner was in the middle of a multi-year contract when he decided to retire. He had a $6.5 million option for 2011 that automatically vested.

Had the Braves put Wagner on the voluntary retired list, he would have been tied to the Braves for the rest of his career. Had the Braves simply released him, they’d have been on the hook for his 2011 salary.

So the agreement they reached Wednesday allowed for the Braves to release him, Wagner to agree to waive his 2011 salary, the Braves to retain exclusive rights to Wagner until the end of the 2011 season and for Wagner to be granted the right to free agency in 2012, if he chooses to come out of retirement.

Wren said Wagner has no immediate plans to come out of retirement, but the players’ union wanted to set a different precedent in these cases.

When asked if this meant Wagner was entertaining any thoughts of coming out of retirement, Wren said: “No, not at all. It hasn’t changed anything. He’s perfectly happy doing what he’s doing, going to Little League games, and being a part of the family. He’s very content.”

Wren said that in effect for the last two months he’s been negotiating with the union.

“At the end (Wagner) gets what is really desired, I think, mostly by the union,” Wren said. “That at the end of this season, he’s a pure free agent….With these special class of players, it’s more of a union issue. They’re protecting their constituents in this special class.”

Wagner retired as the fifth all-time saves leader with 422. Wren said the Kansas City Royals went through a similar situation in January when Gil Meche retired with $12 million left on his contract.

60 comments Add your comment

just sayin'

March 30th, 2011
2:28 pm

he was great..the braves will miss him…hopefully the save ‘committee’ will do his memory justice…

Johnny Bravo

March 30th, 2011
2:35 pm

Braves return “home” to Turner Field and the offense shuts down.

Same old Braves !

Corky Millerr

March 30th, 2011
2:36 pm

And Joe Mather as “The Norton”" …


March 30th, 2011
2:39 pm

Good luck in retirement, Wags. Hope you and the Braves have a reason to get back together later this season. Nothing would please me more than to, once again, hear “Enter Sandman” and have you run onto the field in the ninth. :D


March 30th, 2011
2:40 pm

The game is going to be rained out tomorrow. Will they make it up on Friday since they have that ridiculously scheduled day off?

tom joad

March 30th, 2011
2:45 pm

DOB, for some of the flak you’ve taken on the boards of recent you should change the headline to, “Braves remove retired Wagner from 40-man roster, bitches.”


March 30th, 2011
2:50 pm

I wish he would come back mid season for the pennant run. Having a rested arm at that point could be the difference.


March 30th, 2011
2:52 pm

Johnny Bravo, go peddle you negative comments some place else.

Tale of Woe

March 30th, 2011
2:54 pm

Thanks DOB….I am surprised the Braves didn’t have to pay a financial incentive for this…Anyway, he was great the 1 year he was with us…Maybe he will go into the HOF wearing a Braves cap…LOL

paw paw

March 30th, 2011
2:54 pm

I was fortunate to meet him out of a cab one day at the park and got his autograph( I have over 300) and he was class when he played for our teams as well as others. He will be missed by all and wish him well. We would gladly have him back as he is a great closer.Thanks for the memories.


March 30th, 2011
2:59 pm

Thanks Carroll, we finally got the truth about what’s been going on with Wags. Good job by Wren too making sure we didn’t release him without getting compensation from another team if he decides to come back.


March 30th, 2011
3:00 pm

Good riddance….another sore armed reliever to the ole junk heap….he completely tanked on us last year when we needed him most….same as conrad….

I blame wagner for us losing the ‘92 series to the Jays too….


March 30th, 2011
3:03 pm


I know you’re glad this issue has finally been resolved and put to bed for good. LOL. No more daily questions about Wagner’s status.


March 30th, 2011
3:04 pm

It’s Carroll, not DOB.

Thought there would be more to it than simply that he hadn’t time to do the paper work, even if for issues more concerned by the union than Wagner himself.


March 30th, 2011
3:08 pm

Screw the union, I was hoping to see him pitch for the Braves at the end of the year.

northbeach Scott

March 30th, 2011
3:09 pm

Now that you have solved the great “Why is Billy Wagner still on the Braves 40-man roster,” that has been such a hot blog topic would you take a stab at the following:
1) Since Skip Caray has passed away, no one seems to want to explain the infield fly rule to the unwashed masses. Would you care to explore?
2) What is the meaning of life in 10 words or less?
3) Why does ice cream have no bones?
Thank you for your leadership in addressing these critical issues.

GT Alum

March 30th, 2011
3:14 pm

Johnny Bravo -

Did you see today’s lineup? Freeman, McLouth and Prado were the only starters who even played. You really expected an offensive outburst from a starting lineup of


Voice of reason and truth

March 30th, 2011
3:15 pm

He was a more dominant pitcher than Trevor Hoffman.

GT Alum

March 30th, 2011
3:18 pm

Tale of Woe -

It says if the Braves had put Wagner on the voluntary retired list (which is what he is), they wouldn’t have had to pay him, but he would’ve been tied to the team forever. It sounds like Wags and the union are the ones who are getting the benefit out of this, the benefit being that he could come back next year as a FA, and this precedent has been set for the union.


March 30th, 2011
3:20 pm

I wish Fredi played his regulars today. The “full metal lineup” has produced nothing in the 3 times we saw it all spring. I don’t feel confident that a magic switch will turn on tomorrow in Wash.
I like the lineup better with Heyward and Mac switched.

I HATE the idea of Prado being moved to 3rd whenever Chipper is out of the lineup (unless it is a long-term injury — fingers crossed). He needs to be given a position and left there!!


March 30th, 2011
3:22 pm

Never could figure out how a guy that little could throw that hard.

Thanks Carroll.

Voice of reason and truth

March 30th, 2011
3:24 pm

Its amazing he threw up to 98 MPH as a 38-39 year old.

Simply amazing!


March 30th, 2011
3:25 pm

No offensive explosion, but the only offense we got in the last 3 games has come from people who will njot even be on the team tomorrow. Since the non-starters today included Hinske, Young, Conrad, and Hicks — we got no offense out of 7 players we will count on during the season.


March 30th, 2011
3:26 pm

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March 30th, 2011
3:26 pm

Wags was hoping the Braves would just release him so he could get that $6.5 MM for a nice retirement present. Glad Wren was smarter than that.

Darrell Waltrip

March 30th, 2011
3:27 pm



March 30th, 2011
3:32 pm

“I HATE the idea of Prado being moved to 3rd whenever Chipper is out of the lineup (unless it is a long-term injury — fingers crossed). He needs to be given a position and left there!!”

Why, exactly? Martin’s versatility, along with his production, have made him the success he has been.

David O'Brien

March 30th, 2011
3:35 pm

Tom Joad, that 2:45 comment made me smile. (Not that I didn’t understand people’s fascination with the subject, given his performance last season; it’s just that it got a wee bit obsessive, and I tried to assure folks that he’d be dropped before Opening Day.)


March 30th, 2011
3:40 pm

I have to say that it is kind of refreshing to have a GM that doesn’t act like every transaction or negotiation that the team makes is like some sort of covert operation. Frank Wren seems a lot more willing to explain decisions to his players and the fans. John (Homeboy Upstairs) Schurholz really kept everyone in the dark on the inner workings of this team including HOF players who spent their whole careers here. I like Frank Wren…there I said it.


March 30th, 2011
3:46 pm


it’s not that everyone wanted Wags off the roster.. it’s just that right minded folks knew there was more to this story than what we were getting… and now we know.


March 30th, 2011
3:57 pm

Its amazing he threw up to 98 MPH as a 38-39 year old.

Kimbrell will struggle to be a hurler in Wagners class.

David O'Brien

March 30th, 2011
3:57 pm

ISH: Folks wanted answers that simply weren’t going to be provided until it was resolved.

Wags never gave his number to reporters (you haven’t seen him quoted all winter, except when he a appeared at a couple of hot stove or award banquets). His agent stopped returning calls about the subject a few weeks into the offseason. And the Braves would only say that details were being worked out, that only Wagner himself could retire, they couldn’t do it for him.

Other than that, we couldn’t answer why it was taking so long. Because the only people who could talk about it weren’t revealing anything to anyone (other than Wagner, Wren and the agent saying he wasn’t reconsidering his retirement decision).

(Oh, and I disagree with you about fans not wanting him off the roster; maybe not “everyone,” but a hell of a lot did. You can go back to the Rule 5 draft and from then until today, find a multitude of comments from people wishing he was off the roster, saying the Braves should drop him, saying it was “ridiculous” that he was still on the roster, and some even cursing Wagner because they thought he cost the Braves a player or two on waivers or the Rule 5 draft — which was untrue, but you couldn’t convince them of that.)


March 30th, 2011
3:58 pm

Jeez, so much for walking away from the game with class, eh Wagner? The longer this went on, the more I figured it was about legalistic crap having to do with money. It’s always about the money. They can give teary-eyed speeches 24/7/365 about it being “about the game” or “being with my family” or this or that, but it’s *always* about the money, one way or another.


March 30th, 2011
4:05 pm

I knew we wouldn’t get any answers until it was resolved. That said, you can’t be annoyed just because people were curious.. what else is there to do in the offseason?


March 30th, 2011
4:11 pm

And you’re right, I know there are alot of hotheads, idiots, and trolls that frequent this blog and I’d get tired of reading their comments too if I were you. That’s why I don’t post here as often as I used to.


March 30th, 2011
4:20 pm is Billy Wagner’s Second Chance Learning Charity .

The goal is to address the increased school dropout rate in Southwest Virginia by providing free counseling, tutoring and mentoring for middle and high school students with social and educational problems. Working with public school teachers, who identify teenagers and young adults with extra needs, SCLC provides individualized attention for students who are at-risk due to their grades and/or behavior. At Second Chance, these students have the ability to work one-on-one with teachers in an environment to help them prosper.


March 30th, 2011
4:35 pm

K.C. Frenchy

March 30th, 2011
4:35 pm

Gonna miss Wags, he brought passion & the heat with him, it was sweet but too short, damn shame he decided he was done for the Bravos. I say Conrad doesnt last thru the year, & Kimbrel will have control problems & hand out lots of walks! Go Bravos


March 30th, 2011
4:35 pm

Does anyone know why Wags hasn’t retired yet???????


March 30th, 2011
4:36 pm

Enter your comments here


March 30th, 2011
4:37 pm

Those are my three least favorite comments, but they are the most commonly posted.

Gil Meche

March 30th, 2011
4:40 pm

Wait … I retired?

Rufino Linares

March 30th, 2011
5:17 pm

Hey davidinvirginia… Wagner was/is nothing but class. It may have been “legalistic”, but it wasn’t about the money. The way the rules are, retiring with years left on a contract in baseball isn’t as simple as just saying “i quit” and just leaving money on the table. Dude, when you actually learn about sports, and baseball in particular, you can resume trying to communicate with baseball fans. Until then, keep quiet.


March 30th, 2011
6:13 pm

Glad that this issue is cleared up and not just from a baseball perspective. I’ve also found DOB’s attitude on this subject highly irritating in recent weeks. He’s sarcastically dismissed the frequent comments asking what was up. I’m sure these comments grew annoying and tiresome, but given the length to which this thing dragged, and the plainly disingenuous comments from Wagner’s agent (not to mention the impact Wagner’s return would have on the team), the curiosity was justified. DOB, you do a good job of giving us a peek into the team via the blog. And you’re probably right that the whole story probably wasn’t knowable in this case. But snapping back at your readers really wasn’t called for.


March 30th, 2011
6:34 pm

No Braves on the list!
1. Trevor Hoffman (43) 601 R
2. Mariano Rivera (41) 559 R
3. Lee Smith 478 R
4. John Franco 424 L
5. Billy Wagner (39) 422 L
6. Dennis Eckersley+ 390 R
7. Jeff Reardon 367 R
8. Troy Percival 358 R
9. Randy Myers 347 L
10. Rollie Fingers+ 341 R
11. John Wetteland 330 R
12. Roberto Hernandez 326 R
13. Jose Mesa 321 R
14. Todd Jones 319 R
15. Rick Aguilera 318 R
16. Robb Nen 314 R
17. Tom Henke 311 R
18. Rich Gossage+ 310 R
19. Jeff Montgomery 304 R
20. Doug Jones

Monkey Barf

March 30th, 2011
6:35 pm

Again, and as usual, there is so much more about the business of baseball behind the scenes unknown to bloggers. What we read here are criticisms and complaints from uninformed know it alls. Just trust the professional management of the Braves to do their job! They do it quite well, thank you. Go Braves! We want a World Series winner!


March 30th, 2011
6:40 pm

Maybe I am just a wee bit slow in the brain, but this does not totally answer the questions, it seems. It does shed more light on what has been happening, but it seems that the question still remains, “why didn’t Wagner retire?” It seems that he put the Braves in this position by not going the voluntary retirement route. Did all of this happen because he wanted the option of becoming a free agent after this year? Did the Player’s Union use him to try to set a precedent for such cases?


March 30th, 2011
6:46 pm

BTW, David, I do not mean that Wagner made the Braves lose players from the roster. But obviously, it has taken up some time and effort to work this out with the union. And…. even though it may not have cost the Braves, it very well could have. Not to mention all the grief you and Carrol have had to take because of the way it has been handled.


March 30th, 2011
6:53 pm

Greetings Ms. Carroll,

Just wanted to comment on what I feel was a wonderful job you did with your article on young Freddie Freeman. There’s not much that I read in sports these days that brings a lump to one’s throat…this certainly did.

Kudos to you and here is wishing our young First baseman many great seasons to come!

DC Brave

March 30th, 2011
7:03 pm

I thought this article was really going to be kick-in-the-jimmy depressing until I saw that line about “the Braves maintain exclusive rights for the 2011 season.”


That settles things for me…


March 30th, 2011
8:43 pm

So Wagner is retired, but retired in such a way that he can be a free agent in 2012? I don’t see an issue for the union here. If a guy is really done playing, what difference does it make if he’s “tied” to a team or not?

Perhaps there have been instances where players wanted to unretire but were blocked from doing so by their last team?

DC Brave

March 30th, 2011
9:15 pm

Another note to Carroll. Great piece on Freeman. One of the best pieces I’ve seen on any individual Braves player by any writer….ever. And that’s saying something considering the great work you and DOB turn out on a regular basis. Furman Bischer used to do some nice ones on individual players too…I really loved the piece he did on Eddie Perez a few years back.

Coach (2011 and Fredi G. a GO!)

March 30th, 2011
9:22 pm

I’m glad that Billy Wagner is happily retired, however, the rest of this article is pure union bullsh!t.

The players union is protecting itself and it’s own interest. To think that the Braves GM (Frank Wren) would have to jump through so many hoops just to remove Wagner’s name from the roster is just crazy. Not to mention causing all this drama for the entire off season.


March 31st, 2011
3:46 am

Well great. Now that Wagner is off the 40 man roster, who the hell is going to close for us?

We’re doomed.


March 31st, 2011
3:49 am

“Not to mention causing all this drama for the entire off season.”

Drama for who? Wagner? Wren? The media?

The only people who were being dramatic over this topic were the people to stupid to understand it had zero bearing on the roster (until the moment that spot was needed – which it really hasn’t been), the people who saw him being on the 40 man roster who assumed he wasn’t retiring, or the people stubborn enough to not believe DOB that it was a non-factor.

Talking about it causing drama, is just adding to the false drama that never really exsisted amongst those who didn’t bother freaking out over it.


March 31st, 2011
3:50 am

“to stupid” should read “too stupid”.

I love it when calling somebody stupid, I make a stupid grammatical error. Classic.

snowball's chance

March 31st, 2011
10:32 am

So, there is a chance he will pitch again, right?


March 31st, 2011
10:42 am

I’d like to know exactly what kind of game the union was playing here. Wren says “it’s complicated” and I say fine, just lay it out for us. Not because of some far-fetched hope for Wagner’s return, and certainly not because of some temporary issue with the 40-man roster. I’d like to know exactly what the MLBPA was trying to pull off here. Because somewhere out there is a player, not Billy Wagner, who may decide to abuse a contract and “retire” until the end of a deal he doesn’t like, then “un-retire” to claim a lucrative free agent contract. I think a player should have to complete the playing time owed under one contract before moving on to the next one.


March 31st, 2011
10:59 am

Does retirement ever mean retired anymore?

What the heck has Brett Favre done! ah!

Carroll Rogers

April 1st, 2011
11:28 am

A belated thanks for your kind comment DC Brave. Very nice of you.

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