Braves release retired Billy Wagner

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves have released retired closer Billy Wagner in an unusual agreement that allows the team to protect his rights if he returns in 2011.

Wagner had a $6.5 million option for the 2011 season when he retired last season.

Braves general manager Frank Wren said Wednesday that Wagner, fifth all-time with 422 saves, has not wavered on his retirement. If that changes, Wagner's rights belong to the Braves for the 2011 season and postseason.

Wren says the players' union wanted the clarification that Wagner would be classified a free agent following the 2011 season instead of being tied to the Braves "in perpetuity" because he voluntarily retired during a contract.

The Braves agreed to release Wagner. In return, Wagner released the team from paying his 2011 salary.