Bob Wickman to return in 2007

The Braves will not have to worry about a closer for 2007, with the signing of Bob Wickman to an extension. Bill Shanks has more.

Bob Wickman will stay a Brave.

The Atlanta Braves announced a one-year contract extension with their burly closer Thursday afternoon. The team will hold a press conference next Tuesday when they return home to face the New York Mets.

Financial terms are not know yet, and it's a bit of a surprise the Braves got this deal done right now with a week and a half left in the season. But it represents the importance of getting Wickman under contract for next season.

The 37-year-old Wickman has saved 15 games for the Braves since the trade in July that brought him over from the Cleveland Indians for minor league catcher Max Ramirez. He has blown only one save and has a 1.19 ERA in his 24 games, but more importantly he has stabilized the Atlanta bullpen with a solid veteran presence.

"Bob's impact on our bullpen and team has been obvious," Braves Executive Vice President and General Manager John Schuerholz said in a release. "He is a proven closer and we look forward to beginning the 2007 season with him on our club."

Wickman has a 60-56 career record with 244 saves and a 3.58 ERA in 774 games (28 starts). He is tied with Hall of Famer Don Sutton for 41st place all-time in games pitched. A two-time All-Star (2000 & 2005), Wickman is pitching for his fourth major league club after previously working for the New York Yankees (1992-96), the Milwaukee Brewers (1996-2000) and the Indians (2000-06). He has twice appeared in the postseason - with the Yankees in 1995 and with the Indians in 2001.

The Wickman signing addresses one of the top questions facing Schuerholz this winter. With Wickman now under contract, the Braves can now focus on other issues during the offseason.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look at the Braves' traditional front office philosophies. He can also be heard regularly on the Braves' Radio Network. Email Bill at

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