300-game winner Glavine returns to Braves | VailDaily.com
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300-game winner Glavine returns to Braves

Paul Newberry
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

ATLANTA ” Tom Glavine won his 300th game with the New York Mets. He plans to get his final win for the Atlanta Braves.

Glavine agreed to an $8 million, one-year contract with the Braves on Sunday, returning full time to the city he always called home even while pitching the last five years in New York.

Negotiations between the 303-game winner and the Braves lasted less than a week after Glavine made it clear he wanted to finish his career in Atlanta and the team worked out room in its budget to sign him.

Glavine pitched for the Braves from 1987-2002, winning 242 games and two NL Cy Young Awards. An afternoon news conference to formally announce the signing was scheduled for Monday at Turner Field.

“We are absolutely thrilled to bring Tom Glavine back to the Braves,” new general manager Frank Wren said. “We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from the players on our club, our staff and our fans concerning Tom’s return. Tom is a proven winner and a future Hall of Famer.”

The initial talks were held Wednesday, the Braves made their first offer Friday and the details were hammered out over the weekend, said Glavine’s agent, Gregg Clifton.

“While Tom is disappointed to be leaving New York and all of his friends and teammates there, he has an opportunity to go back to Atlanta to continue his career with the Braves,” Clifton said. “Ultimately, as everyone knows, Tom’s decision was tremendously influenced by the importance of his family being paramount in his life.”

Glavine, who is married with four children, has come full circle after an acrimonious split from the Braves in 2002.

The crafty left-hander kept his primary home in suburban Atlanta while pitching five years for the Mets. He set himself up for a return to the Braves by turning down a $13 million option to remain with New York in 2008, taking a $3 million buyout.

He then gave the Braves a bit of a hometown discount, something he wasn’t willing to do five years ago. Glavine’s options were further limited when Curt Schilling took an $8 million deal to remain with the Boston Red Sox, though he could earn another $5 million through performance and weight bonuses.

Glavine’s contract is a straightforward arrangement with no incentives.

Wren, who took over from longtime GM John Schuerholz last month, was eager to add depth to a rotation that relied heavily on John Smoltz and Tim Hudson and never settled on reliable options in the fourth and fifth slots.

In addition to landing Glavine, Wren hopes for a return to health by Mike Hampton, who missed the last two seasons with injuries. He has started another rehab stint in the Arizona Fall League.

Glavine, who will turn 42 before the start of next season, went 13-8 with a 4.45 ERA in 200 1-3 innings for the Mets this year.

The loss of Glavine to an NL East rival leaves New York looking for another starter to add to its rotation. Free agent Livan Hernandez is a possibility, and the Mets also hope to make a trade pitch for Minnesota ace Johan Santana if the Twins decide they can’t re-sign him.

Glavine came up to the Braves in 1987, the first wave in an impressive class of young pitchers that also included Smoltz and Steve Avery. Those three helped the Braves to a remarkable worst-to-first turnaround in 1991, when Atlanta made it all the way to Game 7 of a memorable World Series before losing to Minnesota.

Glavine won the first of his two Cy Young awards with the Braves in ’91, which also was the first of five 20-win seasons he had with the team. He won a career-best 22 games in 1993, and added another Cy Young award in 1998 when he went 20-6.

The Braves won 11 of their record 14 straight division titles with Glavine on the mound, and he was the MVP of their only World Series championship during that run, a six-game triumph over the Cleveland Indians in 1995.

Glavine won two games in that series, including a 1-0 triumph in Game 6. He allowed only one hit in eight innings before Mark Wohlers got the final three outs.

Getting by with pinpoint control and a devastating changeup, Glavine seemed destined to spend his entire career in Atlanta. But he refused to take an offer with millions in deferred payments and not as much guaranteed money after going 18-11 with a 2.96 ERA in 2002.

Signing a four-year, $42.5 million contract with the Mets, Glavine failed to match the numbers he put up in Atlanta. He went 9-14 in 2003, his first losing season since 1990, and never won more than 15 games with the Mets.

He did get another chance to pitch in the postseason in 2006, going six scoreless innings to win a division series game against Los Angeles and seven scoreless innings for another win in Game 1 of the NL championship series against St. Louis.

Glavine took the loss in Game 5, and the Mets fell to the Cardinals in seven games. Shortly afterward, he re-signed with the Mets, never getting a hoped-for offer from the Braves, who didn’t have enough money under their reduced payroll to make a serious bid.

Atlanta is in more of a spending mood this winter after deciding not to re-sign Gold Glove center fielder Andruw Jones and dealing shortstop Edgar Renteria to Detroit for prospects.

Glavine joined the 300-win club on Aug. 5 with a win over the Cubs, but his final start in New York was abysmal: The lefty was booed off the mound in the regular-season finale, allowing seven runs and getting only one out in the second-shortest start of his career.

The 8-1 loss to Florida completed the Mets’ historic September collapse, giving the NL East title to Philadelphia.

Glavine decided he didn’t want to go out like that, and any thoughts of retirement were abandoned when the Braves called.

AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.


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