Former All-Star closer Eric Gagne, who has been on the comeback trail since participating in the WBC over the offseason, has signed on with the indy ball Long Island Ducks, the team announced. Gagne reportedly drew some interest from MLB organizations, but ultimately wasn’t able to find a minors deal.
Gagne, 41, will look to use his stint with the Ducks as a platform to returning to affiliated ball. He has seen brief Canadian indy ball action in the past two seasons, though this seems to represent a more concerted effort at making it back to the majors.
It would obviously represent a surprise if the former closer is able to accomplish his apparent goal, though certainly plenty of players have engineered similarly unexpected comeback tales. Gagne last pitched in the bigs in 2008, and you have to go back to 2004 to find a fully healthy and effective season. His career ultimately unraveled as he struggled to stay healthy after Tommy John surgery in 2005, all while embroiled in PED-related controversy. (He later admitted using HGH, alleging that he was far from alone among his peers.)
At his peak, though, Gagne was a rare force from the back of the Dodgers’ pen. After moving out of the rotation for good in 2002, he engineered a three-year run in which he compiled 247 innings of 1.79 ERA ball with 13.3 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. He racked up 152 saves in that span and took home the National League Cy Young Award in 2003 — his best-ever campaign.