ATLANTA -- Tom Glavine is coming home.
The 303-game winner returned to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday,
agreeing to an $8 million, one-year contract.
The agreement between the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner and
the Braves was hammered out during weekend talks, said Glavine's
agent, Gregg Clifton. The pitcher already has taken a physical for
Atlanta, the final formality in the deal.
The Braves needed less than a week to lure Glavine back after an
acrimonious split in 2002 that led to him spending five seasons
with the New York Mets. His old -- make that new -- team was expected
to formally introduce him at a news conference Monday at Turner
"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 told
The Associated Press. "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 and has four children, kept his primary
home in suburban Atlanta even after he signed with the Mets, and it
was clear the crafty left-hander wanted to finish his career with
the Braves when he turned down a $13 million option to return to
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. The contract includes no
Frank Wren, the Braves' new general manager, held his first
talks with Clifton on Wednesday in Phoenix. Two days later, the
Braves made their initial offer and Clifton reacted positively, a
sure sign that a deal wouldn't take long to reach.
The Braves were 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, they hope 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, part of 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 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 on 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
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
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
allowed seven runs in the first inning, getting only one out in the
second-shortest start of his career.
The 8-1 loss to Florida in the regular-season finale completed
the Mets' historic September collapse, giving the NL East title to
Glavine decided he didn't want to go out like that, and any
thoughts of retirement were abandoned when the Braves called.