BOSTON (AP) – Pitcher Keith Foulke, who closed out the Boston’s first World Series championship in 86 years, declined a $5.25 million option Friday and filed for free agency.

“We respect Keith’s decision to become a free agent,” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. “Keith said he wanted to play in a city closer to his family, and that’s certainly understandable. We wish him the best.”

Foulke gets a $1.5 million buyout. His agent told the team that the reliever would not exercise his option with the Red Sox, team spokesman John Blake said.

Foulke was the closer during the team’s championship run in 2004 when he had 32 saves and fielded the final out of the World Series. He was bothered by knee and arm injuries the next two seasons, and replaced as closer by rookie Jonathan Papelbon this year.

Foulke spent much of last season on the disabled list, compiling a record of 3-1 with a 4.35 ERA in 44 relief appearances.

Earlier this week, Boston declined a $7.5 million team option to extend Foulke’s contract through the 2007 season.


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