Braves give release to retired closer Wagner

The Atlanta Braves have released retired closer Billy Wagner in

an unusual agreement that allows the team to protect his rights if

he returns in 2011.

Wagner had a $6.5 million option for the 2011 season when he

retired last season.

Braves general manager Frank Wren said Wednesday that Wagner,

fifth all-time with 422 saves, has not wavered on his retirement.

If that changes, Wagner’s rights belong to the Braves for the 2011

season and postseason.

Wren says the players’ union wanted the clarification that

Wagner would be classified a free agent following the 2011 season

instead of being tied to the Braves ”in perpetuity” because he

voluntarily retired during a contract.

The Braves agreed to release Wagner. In return, Wagner released

the team from paying his 2011 salary.