Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Billy Wagner has reached a preliminary agreement to sign with the Braves.
For Sox fans, this is the end of a fairly lengthy drama involving Elias rankings, arbitration, and draft picks. At first it looked like the Sox would have to agree to forgo arbitration and give up the draft picks to finalize the Wagner trade. Then it looked like Wagner might accept arbitration if it was offered.
Things seem to have worked out well for Boston now, though, as Wagner's signing would secure the Sox the Braves' first round pick (number 20) and a supplementary pick between the first 2 rounds. The first rounder is not a sure thing, as the Sox would have to settle for a second rounder if the Braves signed a higher ranked free agent, but they have yet to be linked to any other, bigger names. Essentially, the Sox bought a few late-season innings of Wagner, and turned Chris Carter and Eddie Lora--two prospects entirely unlikely to contribute to the Sox--into first round picks. Not a bad deal.
The Red Sox have acquired quite a bit of talent thanks to compensatory picks over the last 5 years, including Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Jed Lowrie, Michael Bowden, and Nick Hagadone.