A day after losing out to the Mariners in the Ken Griffey Jr. sweepstakes, the Braves secured the services of their own home-grown future Hall of Famer. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday night that Tom Glavine, Major League Baseball’s only active 300-game winner, had agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal. According to “two people familiar with the situation,” the soon-to-be 43-year-old lefty can also earn up to $3.5 million in incentives.
Glavine, who has spent 17 of his 22 big league seasons with the Braves, struggled to a 2-4 record and 5.54 ERA in 13 starts for Atlanta in 2008 before undergoing season-ending surgeries on his elbow and shoulder in August. He isn’t that far removed from success, however, having gone 13-8 for the Mets in 2007 and 15-7 the previous year. He’ll likely serve as the Braves’ No. 5 starter, following free-agent acquisitions Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez, second-year hurler Jair Jurrjens and Japanese import Kenshin Kawakami in the rotation. His signing makes it appear likely that right-hander Jorge Campillo will pitch out of the bullpen and top prospect Tommy Hanson will begin the year in the minors.
Glavine was the Braves’ second-round draft choice in 1984 and made his big league debut three years later at age 21. He captured the National League Cy Young award in 1991 by going 20-11 with a 2.55 ERA as the Braves reached the World Series before losing to Kirby Puckett, Jack Morris and the Twins. He went 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA to capture series MVP honors when the Braves beat the Indians in the 1995 Fall Classic, and earned his second Cy Young award in 1998 with a 20-6 record and 2.47 ERA. Through much of the 1990s, Glavine teamed with fellow future Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and John Smoltz in one of the most dominant starting rotations in baseball history.
The veteran lefty became the active leader in career wins when Maddux announced his retirement earlier this offseason and ranks 21st on the all-time list with 305 victories. He is one of the few players whose legacy will actually be enhanced by the fact that he played during the Steroid Era, as he excelled despite having to pitch against many sluggers who had the advantage of using performance-enhancing drugs. That he succeeded in doing so without a blazing fastball only increases his nostalgic appeal. If 2009 proves to be his final season, it’s nice that he’ll be able to go out as a Brave.
Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo by the Associated Press