Glavine, Braves agree to deal
Veteran lefty will have chance to earn up to $4.5 million in 2009
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Confident that his left arm is as strong as it's been in nearly six years, Tom Glavine has gained the opportunity to prove he can still be a valuable member of the Braves rotation.
Glavine and the Braves agreed early Thursday evening to terms of a one-year, incentive-base contract that will provide the veteran southpaw the opportunity to net approximately $4.5 million this season. The Braves announced the signing on Friday.
"I'm excited to be back and excited to contribute more than I did last year," Glavine said. "As all of you who know me know, it was a disappointing year for me in that regard and very frustrating to not be healthy for the first time in my career."
Approaching his 43rd birthday and attempting to come back from a surgical procedure that repaired his left elbow and left shoulder, Glavine was seeking a contract with a small guarantee and an incentive package that would reward him for the production he believes he's capable of providing.
"We've followed his rehab all winter and he just continues to do well and his visit [with Dr. James Andrews] went well last month and he's just continued to get stronger," general manager Frank Wren said. "As this has unfolded, we've kept close tabs and we're thrilled that he's back with us."
With his new contract, Glavine will earn a guarantee of $1 million and have the opportunity to earn an additional $3.5 million through incentives. He'll receive a $1 million bonus once he's placed on the active roster and separate $1.25 million bonuses if he's on the active roster for 30 and 90 days.
The $2.5 million he can gain via the bonuses based on his time on the active roster will be deferred over an unspecified period of time.
Heeding the advice of Andrews, Glavine won't report to Braves camp until the first week of March. This will provide the 300-game winner plenty of time to prepare for his first start of the regular season, which is currently scheduled for April 19.
Glavine is expected to man the fifth spot of Atlanta's new-look starting rotation. His addition increases the likelihood that Charlie Morton, Jo-Jo Reyes and top prospect Tommy Hanson will begin this season in Triple-A Gwinnett's rotation.
Jorge Campillo, who has also been considered a candidate for the fifth spot in the Braves' rotation, will now likely be utilized as a long reliever and spot starter.
When Glavine began a regular throwing program in January, he quickly gained confidence that he'd be fit enough to pitch this season. Over the course of the six weeks that have followed, he has always made it known that his desire was to pitch again for Atlanta.
Glavine made his Major League debut for the Braves in 1987 and spent the first 16 seasons of his career in their organization. Even while spending five seasons with the Mets (2003-07), he maintained his family residence in Atlanta.
When Glavine returned to the Braves last year, thoughts of enjoying a memorable homecoming were wrecked when his left elbow and right hamstring forced him to make three trips to the disabled list.
Entering the season, Glavine had made 669 starts and completed 4,350 innings without being placed on the disabled list.
When Glavine had a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow repaired during the August surgical procedure, there was reason to wonder if he'd pitch again.
But if healthy, Glavine was determined not to end his career with this kind of injury-plagued season, during which he went 2-4 with a 5.44 ERA. He considered himself healthy for just three of his 13 starts.
Glavine's 305 career wins rank as the fourth most among left-handers in Major League history. His 244 wins with the Braves place him fourth on the organization's all-time list.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.