Source: Mets looking to unload Wagner

If Billy Wagner's return to New York this weekend is nothing more than a glorified audition, the Mets are already pushing the paperwork that will enable them to trade him.

According to a major league source, the Mets placed Wagner on trade waivers Wednesday. That means those waivers would expire at 1 p.m. ET Friday, hours before Wagner is scheduled to be activated and make his long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery.

It's unlikely Wagner would be claimed, because any team claiming him would be on the hook for approximately $2.7 million of his $8.5 million salary for this year, plus a $1 million buyout of his option for 2010. So if, as expected, he goes unclaimed, the Mets would be able to trade him.

If the 38-year-old left-hander is claimed, the Mets would have until Tuesday afternoon to work out a deal with the team that claims him.

Wagner's contract includes a no-trade clause, but New York-area newspapers are reporting that Wagner would not make that an issue.

"You want to win a World Series, that's for sure," Wagner said, according to the New York Post. "If I'm fortunate enough to be asked to come and join a team that has a great chance to win the World Series, that is something that definitely I'd think about."

With Francisco Rodriguez under contract long-term and Wagner about to become a free agent, the Mets are expected to work aggressively to try to trade their former closer before the Aug. 31 waiver trading deadline.

In the current economic climate, it's also likely that the Mets will have to eat at least some of the money left on Wagner's contract if they hope to get a useful prospect in return.

Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com.