Game over? No, Gagne back with LA
Franchise's greatest closer signs a Minor League deal
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers made it official Friday, announcing the signing of free-agent reliever Eric Gagne to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp.
Gagne also had an offer from the Colorado Rockies, but he made it clear in a meeting with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti earlier this month that his preference was to return to the team where he enjoyed his greatest success.
The Dodgers bullpen is loaded -- with Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill, Hong-Chih Kuo and Ronald Belisario among others -- and the 40-man roster is full. If Gagne makes the Major League club, he will earn $500,000, with another $500,000 possible in performance bonuses. There is an out clause if he doesn't make the club.
Gagne, 34, was the greatest closer in Dodgers history and a fan favorite, the NL Cy Young Award winner in 2003, a three-time All-Star and holder of baseball's all-time record of 84 consecutive save conversions.
He often single-handedly kept Dodgers fans in their seats, as they stayed to watch "Game Over" Gagne, who entered the field to the blaring sound of Guns N' Roses "Welcome to the Jungle."
But his career spiraled beginning with elbow surgery in 2005, then another elbow operation and back surgery in 2006, after which he left the Dodgers as a free agent. In 2007, Gagne was linked to performance-enhancing drug use when named in the Mitchell Report.
Gagne made stops in Texas, Boston and Milwaukee after leaving Los Angeles. After pitching for the Brewers in 2008, he was released during Spring Training of 2009 with a slight tear in his rotator cuff that he rehabbed without surgery.
Last year he played for the Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League as a starting pitcher/coach. In 17 starts, he went 6-6 with a 4.65 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 102 2/3 innings. Gagne originally was a starter for the Dodgers before moving to the bullpen in 2002.
A native Canadian, Gagne lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., and visited the Dodgers' training complex at Camelback Ranch-Glendale last spring after being released by the Brewers.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.