Glavine's four previous seasons as a Met had their checkered points; an Opening Day battering at the hands of the Chicago Cubs in 2002, a taxi ride gone awry near LaGuardia Airport in 2003 that cost Glavine his two front teeth, and watching Roger Cedeno attempt to play defense in the outfield, just to identify a few lowlights.
But things have changed, and the Mets – a team now proud to boast annual October aspirations – have finally earned a soft spot in Glavine's heart.
"After four years, it's grown on me," Glavine said.
Glavine agreed Friday to a one-year, $10.5 million contract that will see him pursue his 300th career win as a Met, returning for a fifth season in New York.
According to details provided by the Associated Press, Glavine's contract has a vesting option for 2008 that will garner him $6 million if he pitches 160 innings next year. The salary would increase by $1 million for each additional 10 innings, up to a maximum of $10 million.
Glavine said he never received an offer from the Braves, though he wrestled with the idea of pitching the 2007 season closer to his Alpharetta, Ga. home – though probably not as much as he would have, had such an option presented itself in past years.
|State of the Mets rotation -
|1. LHP Tom Glavine|
2. RHP Orlando Hernandez
3. LHP Oliver Perez
4. RHP John Maine/LHP Jason Vargas
5. RHP M. Pelfrey/P. Humber/B. Bannister
"Everyone who knows me knows how important my family is, and how much strain it is for me to be in New York," Glavine said. "I'm gone all the time and it's tough. … It was a more difficult decision than I anticipated, in terms of my pull to come back to New York."
A 290-game winner, Glavine said he felt wanted by the Mets, who agreed at the end of the season to give him space to make a decision. Under a gentleman's agreement, both sides declined a mutual option that would have automatically brought Glavine back for 2007.
"We just let it play out," Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said. "We knew we were going to get a decision at some point."
Glavine promised Mets GM Omar Minaya and Wilpon that he would have a decision ready for them by the beginning of the Winter Meetings, which kick off Monday in Orlando, Fla.
"That was a commitment that I planned to keep my word on," Glavine said. "I have to give Jeff and Omar all kinds of props and all kinds of respect and for the way they handled this whole thing.
"They gave me as much time as I needed, they were very respectful of the fact that I was going to take time with this whole thing. They really never pressured me."
Glavine's representatives did conduct some discussions with Braves management, but in the end, Atlanta would have needed to clear salary to pursue the left-hander and was unable to do so.
"There are certainly advantages for me, for my family, to be here home in Atlanta," Glavine said. "But in the end, that didn't happen."
Minaya suggested that Glavine and Orlando Hernandez, who quickly re-signed with the Mets following the end of the regular season, would serve as cornerstones in the team's 2007 rotation.
The deal will not preclude the Mets from pursuing other options via trade or free agency, but it also lessens the urgency to do so.
"When you have a Tommy Glavine and an Orlando Hernandez, you know you have two veteran guys you can go to," Minaya said. "... It just gives us two veteran guys who are proven and we can build around those guys."
The Mets offered salary arbitration to right-handed relievers Guillermo Mota and Roberto Hernandez on Friday.
Hernandez, a Type A free agent, is reportedly close to signing a one-year contract with the Cleveland Indians, which would net the Mets a compensation pick in the 2007 draft.
Mota will be unavailable for the first 50 games of the regular season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, but the Mets still have interest in bringing him back as part of the team's bullpen.