Published — Sunday 2 December 2012
Last update 1 December 2012 11:26 pm
NEW YORK: David Wright agreed to the richest contract in New York Mets history while Tommy Hanson was traded to the Los Angeles Angels on a busy day in baseball Friday when dozens of players were dumped by their teams.
Houston scooped up Philip Humber, hoping he’s a perfect fit, and Mariano Rivera returned for another season with the New York Yankees. He’ll be throwing to a new catcher, though, after Russell Martin completed his $17 million, two-year deal with Pittsburgh.
Jair Jurrjens, Mark Reynolds, Mike Pelfrey and Jack Hannahan were among the most notable names set to become free agents Saturday after their former clubs declined to offer them contracts for next season. Teams had until midnight on Friday to make 2013 offers to unsigned players on 40-man rosters.
Wright and the Mets settled on a $138 million, eight-year deal, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The agreement replaces the All-Star third baseman’s $16 million salary for next season and includes $122 million in new money, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been finalized.
Some of the money in Wright’s deal will be deferred.
A homegrown fan favorite, Wright is the club’s career leader in several major offensive categories, including hits, RBIs, runs and walks. He turns 30 on Dec. 20 and would have been eligible for free agency after next season.
Atlanta shipped Hanson to the Angels for former closer Jordan Walden, clearing a spot in the Braves’ rotation for Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado or another young starter.
Hanson’s velocity decreased as he battled rotator cuff tendinitis in 2011 and a lower back strain in 2012. But the 26-year-old right-hander was 45-32 with a 3.61 ERA in 108 starts over four big league seasons with the Braves.
“It’s a good risk on a pitcher we really believe in,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said.
Walden had 32 saves in 2011, making the All-Star team as a rookie, but lost his closer’s role to Ernesto Frieri this year and finished 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA. He became expendable when the Angels agreed this week to a $3.5 million, one-year contract with reliever Ryan Madson.
Walden gives Atlanta another hard-thrower for its bullpen to help set up dominant closer Craig Kimbrel.
“We’ve been focused on adding a power arm to our bullpen all offseason,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “We felt if we added one power arm we would have a bullpen that would stack up with the best bullpens in our league. Jordan Walden has closing experience and the kind of arm that will stack up well in a seventh- and eighth-inning role for us.”
The ninth inning in New York belongs to Rivera, who accepted a cut in guaranteed money when he finalized a $10 million, one-year contract after missing most of the season with a knee injury.
The career saves leader, who turned 43 on Thursday, took a cut from his $30 million deal that covered the last two years — but he can earn additional money in award bonuses.
Rivera was limited to nine games this year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during pre-game batting practice in Kansas City on May 3.
“I didn’t want to go out like that,” he said in a statement. “I didn’t want that to be the last image. But it wasn’t an easy decision because there’s more than just baseball with me. ... I’m not just coming back to play. I’m coming back to win.”
Rivera, with 608 saves in the regular season and 42 more in the postseason, is a 12-time All-Star. The Yankees say his recovery from June 12 knee surgery will be complete by opening day.
By then, Martin will be handling a new pitching staff in Pittsburgh after spending the past two seasons with New York.
The free-agent catcher goes from a franchise that’s won a record 27 World Series titles to a team that has endured a record 20 consecutive losing seasons.
“It’s going to be different,” Martin said. “It’s going to be a challenge but the Pirates have a young and electric club. There is a lot of talent there and I don’t think we’re as far away from winning as maybe people outside baseball think we are.”
Humber, who threw a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox last season, was claimed off waivers by the Astros and agreed to a one-year contract. He gets an $800,000 salary next year and Houston holds a club option for $3 million in 2014 with a $50,000 buyout.
The 29-year-old right-hander went 5-5 with a 6.44 ERA in 26 games last season, including 16 starts.
Jurrjens, an All-Star in 2011, was non-tendered by the Braves after getting demoted to the minors last season. Atlanta also declined to offer a 2013 contract to reliever Peter Moylan, but claimed David Carpenter off waivers from Boston.