Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rangers Eric Gagne Likely Favors Detroit in Trade

As Eric Gagne notched his 10th save in 10 chances in the Rangers 2-1 victory over the Red Sox Sunday, Sox GM Theo Epstein also looked like a probable loser in an effort to add Gagne to his bullpen.

With a 30-day countdown to the trading deadline now under way, Gagne holds veto power over a number of potential suitors, and to the extent that he can control it would tend to steer his trade to Detroit rather than Boston because he would gain save opportunites by supplanting struggling Tigers closer Todd Jones.

Gagne owns a sparkling 1.29 ERA but has been unable to rack up saves in part because the lowly 33-47 Rangers have not presented him with enough opporunities. Jones meanwhile has 18 saves, tied for third most in the American League despite his bloated 5.50 ERA.

The Red Sox have room for Gagne, but Gagne would balk at being the set-up man for established closer Jonathan Papelbon, who can be expected to claim almost all of Boston's save opportunities for the remainder of the season.

Such opportunities are critical for Gagne, as he has an incentive-laden, $6-million renewable one-year contract that kicks in bonus money if he reaches specified saves threshholds. The saves could be worth an extra $500,000 to $1 million to the 31-year-old, 2003 Cy Young Award winner.