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Wagner signs one-year deal with Braves

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The Atlanta Braves signed veteran closer Billy Wagner to a one-year, $7 million deal on Wednesday, counting on one of baseball's top relievers returning to his best form.

The agreement includes a $6.5 million option for the 2011 season, the team said on their website (http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com).

Wagner, 38, sixth on Major League Baseball's all-time save list with 385, missed most of last season due to elbow surgery.

The left-hander returned for the final two months of the campaign, making 17 combined appearances with the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox and posting a 1-1 record with 26 strikeouts.

Wagner established himself as one of the game's leading closers in 1999 when he recorded a career-best 1.57 ERA and converted 39 of 42 save opportunities for the Houston Astros.

During a 12-season span beginning in 1997, Wagner registered a 2.40 ERA and converted 376 of his 434 save opportunities.

Only Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees and Trevor Hoffman of the Milwaukee Brewers claimed more saves during that span.

(Writing by Steve Keating in Calgary, editing by Tony Jimenez)