Dodgers decline $12 million option on closer Gagne

LOS ANGELES -- Eric Gagne's $12 million option was declined
Friday by the Los Angeles Dodgers, making the former NL Cy Young
Award winner a free agent.

The Dodgers will pay $1 million to buy out the final year of
Gagne's contract, but could attempt to re-sign him at a lower
guaranteed salary. Gagne had filed provisionally for free agency on

Gagne had season-ending surgery July 8 to repair a herniated
disc in his lower back. He is expected to be healthy and ready to
pitch when spring training begins in mid-February.

Gagne was limited to 14 games and eight saves in 2005 and two
outings with one save this year. He had surgery in April to remove
a nerve from his pitching elbow -- the same arm that required
elbow-ligament replacement surgery in 1997.

Gagne became a closer in 2002 and was an immediate success,
saving 52 games that year, a franchise-record 55 in 2003 and 45 in
2004. He set a major league record with 84 consecutive saves from
late 2002 to mid-2004.

He won the NL Cy Young Award in 2003, when he went 2-3 with a
1.20 ERA and 55 saves, two shy of the record Bobby Thigpen set with
the Chicago White Sox in 1990.