Closing Time: Mets ink Wagner

NEW YORK – The Diamond Club at Shea Stadium had barely been cleared Monday, with the last remaining items from Carlos Delgado's introductory press conference carted off.

Now, it appears another gathering may be taking place upstairs at the ballpark within the week.

As first reported by, the Mets have agreed to a four-year contract with free agent closer Billy Wagner, a deal that guarantees $43 million and could be worth as much as $50 million after a fifth-year option.

The deal is expected to be finalized Tuesday.

The 34-year-old lefthander was 4-3 with a 1.51 ERA and 38 saves in 75 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2005, his second year with the club after breaking into the major leagues in 1995 with the Houston Astros.

The Phillies had hoped to re-sign Wagner, who visited New York last week and pledged to use the Thanksgiving holiday to mull offers.

Wagner recently told that it had become a "one-horse race" with the Mets involved in bidding.

Wagner will bring his 284 career saves to New York and assume closing duties from Braden Looper, who was 4-7 with a 3.94 ERA and 28 saves in 60 games for the Mets in 2005.

The Mets declined to exercise an option on Looper for 2006, making him a free agent, although Looper said he would be amenable to returning as a setup man to an "elite" closer – Wagner appears to fit that bill.

The Mets have been among baseball's busiest clubs since the season ended. Delgado was acquired on Nov. 24 from the Florida Marlins in exchange for three players: Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit and Grant Psomas, following a trade of Mike Cameron to the San Diego Padres for Xavier Nady to clear salary.

In a smaller move, the Mets also acquired outfielder Tike Redman from the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday in exchange for cash considerations.

The 28-year-old Redman – the older brother of former Mets farmhand Prentice Redman - played in 135 games for Pittsburgh in 2005, batting .251 with two home runs and 26 RBI.

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