As the New York Mets’ players are focused on reaching the post-season, team management has other concerns – insurance. Billy Wagner, the team’s closer, underwent ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (commonly known as Tommy John surgery) last week and is likely to miss the entire 2009 season. Even though Wagner is not expected to pitch at all next season, the Mets will pay him $10.5 million during the last year of a four-year, $43 million contract and the team reportedly will not be able to collect from its insurance policy for Wagner’s 2009 salary. According to media reports, Wagner’s injury qualifies as a pre-existing condition because he underwent surgery on the same elbow eight years ago.
This lack of coverage will have implications for the Mets, who will look for a replacement for Wagner during the off-season. Since the team will be responsible for Wagner’s entire 2009 salary, they are less likely to pursue a high-priced closer, such as free agent Francisco Rodríguez, as his replacement.