Glavine's future could become clearer Wednesday afternoon, when Clifton meets with Braves general manager Frank Wren. During this meeting, the two parties are expected to take advantage of their first opportunity to discuss financial specifics.
All Major League teams were allowed to begin talking finances with other teams' free agents Tuesday. While Wren and Clifton shared a discussion, they opted to wait until Wednesday to discuss how much the Braves are willing to offer Glavine.
"We're looking forward to sitting down with Frank [on Wednesday] to see how the Braves view Tom in their plans for 2008," Clifton said late Tuesday afternoon.
The meeting will occur at Clifton's Phoenix-area office. Wren and Braves manager Bobby Cox are in the area this week assessing some of the organization's young talent in the Arizona Fall League.
While pitching for the Braves from 1987-2002, Glavine developed a close bond with Cox, and the two remained close while the veteran left-hander has pitched in New York for the past five seasons.
Having the opportunity to be reunited with Cox, veteran ace John Smoltz and third baseman Chipper Jones certainly increases Glavine's desire to return to the Braves. So, too, does the fact he'd have the opportunity to spend more time with his family in their suburban Atlanta residence.
But, Clifton says, Glavine is keeping an "open mind" as he enters the free-agent market for the third time in the past six years. He added that there are three other organizations who have expressed a definite interest in acquiring the services of the 41-year-old southpaw, who has notched 242 of his 303 career wins with the Braves.
"He wants to see what the Braves are willing to offer," Clifton said. "One thing that sets Tom apart is his ability to keep an even keel. I don't think he's ever gotten too high or too low as an athlete. I think the same applies in this process, and he's not assuming anything is going to happen."
In other words, Glavine isn't allowing himself to assume the Braves will make a favorable offer. Last year, he held this hope only to realize the Braves wouldn't even make an offer before he was forced to meet the deadline the Mets had set with their offer.
By declining the $13 million option he had with the Mets for next season, Glavine gave himself the opportunity to at least be courted by the Braves again. At the same time, he opened the door for the possibility that a team like Washington could target him to be its ace and offer him a salary significantly higher than the one offered by the Braves, who would target him as their third or fourth starter.
"He's open right now," said Clifton of Glavine, who will turn 42 in March. "I think that's the best and fairest way to describe it."
After the 2002 season, when they had already acquired Mike Hampton via a November trade, the Braves' hopes of bringing Glavine back were erased when they were outbid by the Mets.
During the early portion of those negotiations, Glavine indicated Atlanta's initial offer felt like a slap in the face. Last offseason, the only pain he felt stemmed from the fact the team never made an offer.
Because they have greater financial freedom and an increased need to add a veteran starting pitcher, the Braves will definitely make an offer this year. It's believed it will likely be a one-year deal worth $8-10 million with a mutual option for 2009.
Given the opportunity to pitch in his adopted hometown and the chance to pitch without the stress of being a club's ace at this point in his career, Glavine might be more apt to accept this sort of offer as opposed to a greater one from a team that targets him as a front-line starter with a higher salary.
"I don't view any offer as a slap in the face if it's made with a sense of justification," Clifton said.
Both parties expect the negotiations to move quickly. With Glavine being at the top of their wish list, the Braves would like to secure him as quick as possible to know how much money is available to fill their other offseason needs.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.