What Needs to Happen First?
If Wagner gets into the Hall of Fame, he would probably come after several other relief pitchers before him. Trevor Hoffman fell just three votes short of being inducted, and his induction should come fairly soon. Mariano Rivera will be eligible in 2019 as part of a loaded class of potential inductees.
Relievers are starting to be viewed as a valuable commodity, as evidenced by the monster contracts handed to closers during this offseason. With more analytic-driven voters likely to be added to the pool with each passing year and old-school voters losing their votes, relievers like Wagner should gain more traction.
Hoffman may get in as soon as next year, and Rivera is a no-brainer to be a first-year inductee. Once those two relievers are in the Hall, it may be the watershed Wagner needs to become a legitimate contender to be an inductee.