Gagne traded to Red Sox |

Gagne traded to Red Sox

Tom Withers
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado
**FILE** Texas Rangers reliever Eric Gagne delivers to the Seattle Mariners in the second baseball game of a doubleheader in Arlington, Texas, in this July 24, 2007 file photo. With Gagne finally pitching like his old self following two elbow operations and back surgery, the Boston Red Sox acquired the reliever on Tuesday, July 31, 2007 from the Rangers. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

CLEVELAND ” With Eric Gagne finally pitching like his old self following two elbow operations and back surgery, the Boston Red Sox acquired the reliever on Tuesday from the Texas Rangers, who also unloaded first baseman Mark Teixeira to Atlanta in a seven-player swap.

Once one of baseball’s premier closers, Gagne joined a Boston bullpen that already had two All-Star relievers: closer Jonathan Papelbon and setup man Hideki Okajima.

But the Red Sox, who entered Tuesday leading the AL East by eight games over the New York Yankees, didn’t want to take any chances of blowing their big lead and acquired Gagne to bolster the back end of their bullpen after consecutive implosions last weekend by Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen.

Boston sent left-hander Kason Gabbard and minor league outfielders David Murphy and Engel Beltre to the Rangers, who were the busiest team in the majors before Tuesday’s 2 p.m. MST non-waiver trade deadline. Texas also will cover part of what remains on Gagne’s contract.

Gagne was guaranteed $2.5 million in additional money by Boston to accept the trade, raising his 2007 earnings to $9.85 million. He already had a $6 million base salary and had earned $1.35 million in performance bonuses. As part of the deal, Gagne agreed to eliminated his remaining performance bonuses, which are based on games finished.

Earlier, the Rangers completed the deal that sent Teixeira and pitcher Ron Mahay to the Braves for rookie catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and four minor leaguers.

Last week, the Rangers traded outfielder Kenny Lofton to the Cleveland Indians for minor league catcher Max Ramirez.

“There’s a little mixed emotions in there,” Rangers pitcher Kevin Millwood said. “The trade for Tex (Teixeira) kind of had to happen, I think. He just wasn’t going to re-sign here. At least we got some good players. Gagne, I kind of felt we had a chance to sign him. I’m a little more surprised, but we move on.”

Milwaukee, clinging to its NL Central lead, also had been interested in obtaining Gagne.

Gagne signed a $6 million, one-year contract with the Rangers in December after eight successful seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 16 saves for last-place Texas, which began a three-game series in Cleveland 15 1/2 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.

The 31-year-old Gagne was a three-time All-Star and won the NL Cy Young Award in 2003 when he saved 55 games for the Dodgers.

He had 45 saves in 2004 but was limited to just 14 the following season because of elbow problems that eventually needed surgery. The hard-throwing native of Montreal pitched in only two games last season as he tried to come back from another elbow operation as well as surgery to repair a herniated disk.

From 2002-04, Gagne set a major league record by converting 84 consecutive saves. He’ll likely be used in a setup role for the Red Sox, which joined the chase for Gagne after seeing him pitch consecutive days, further proof that he’s healthy.

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