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Brian Wilson Rumors
The bearded closer-turned-setup-man appeared in 61 games with the Dodgers this season, totaling 48 1/3 innings of 4.66 ERA ball. In what was his first full season back from his second Tommy John operation, Wilson’s fastball velocity dipped to an average of 92.1 mph, and is command faltered a bit, as he issued 5.4 walks per nine innings pitched. He did, however, maintain his stellar strikeout rate, averaging 10.1 punchouts per nine innings.
Wilson’s tenure with the Dodgers began late in the 2013 season when he inked a $1MM big league deal in August and enjoyed a successful late-season and postseason run with L.A. He allowed one run in 19 2/3 innings between the regular season and postseason, striking out 21 against just six walks. That performance earned him a one-year contract that guaranteed him $10MM in 2014 with a $9MM player option that contained incentives based on appearances.
Were Wilson to again test the open market, he’d have gone up against a strong class of setup men that featured the likes of Luke Gregerson, Andrew Miller and Pat Neshek in addition to a few closers who lost their grip on the ninth inning but pitched well in an eighth-inning role (e.g. Sergio Romo and Jason Grilli). Instead, he’ll return to a contending team’s bullpen with a strong salary relative to his peers. Presumably, Wilson will look to reestablish his command and restore his once-excellent ground-ball rate (his 38.1 percent mark in 2014 was 10 percent lower than his career mark) in hopes of cashing in on a larger multi-year deal next offseason.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Dodgers’ reliever Brian Wilson, who is playing on a one-year, $10MM deal that includes a $9MM player option for next season, showed a dramatic velocity drop in his outing last night. The usually hard-throwing Wilson only topped 90 mph on one fastball, though he was throwing in a blowout. As Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports (via Sulia), both Wilson and trainer Stan Conte have informed manager Don Mattingly that Wilson has no physical issues. Mattingly did say he was concerned with Wilson’s inconsistent production and velocity numbers, though he chalked it up to the fact that Wilson thrives in high-leverage situations. Wilson sports an unsightly 10.22 ERA through 12 1/3 innings, with 10.9 K/9 against 8.8 BB/9.
- The long-discussed “problem” of having four viable outfielders has finally manifested itself in Los Angeles, with Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Yasiel Puig all at full strength. (Indeed, the situation is only complicated further by fifth option Scott Van Slyke, who has outplayed all but Puig, and top prospect Joc Pederson, who has a 1.125 OPS at Triple-A.) Nevertheless, reports Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times, GM Ned Colletti still does not appear inclined to make a move. “It’s a situation we’re going to have to deal with,” he said. “But we’re always going to be one injury away from not having to deal with it. It gives everybody a chance to take a breath, get a day.”
- In another area that could probably be classified as a rich man’s problem, Dilbeck asks whether Dee Gordon‘s improbably outstanding start to the year makes for difficulties with top free agent signee Alex Guerrero. While Guerrero is swinging the bat well at Triple-A (.326/.386/.554 slash in 101 plate appearances), Colletti says his “defense is still something that needs to get better.” A position switch could be considered in the future, though nothing is impending. “We’ll decide at some point in time if we need to add more versatility to his defense to give him a better chance of getting here,” Colletti explained. Dilbeck notes that Guerrero, 27, will need to see MLB time in the near future if he is to return value on his $28MM deal, and wonders whether that contract would be attractive on the trade market.
- Starter Zack Greinke is well aware of the dangers of too much stress on his elbow, and has changed his entire approach in an effort to maintain his ability to throw into the future, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. In particular, Greinke has pulled back the use of his slider, saving it for more important situations. “In what I would deem a very important at-bat or a very important pitch, yes, I would throw the slider,” said Greinke. “But with the pitcher up and no one on, you might be able to strike him out with three pitches. DO you really want to throw three sliders to a pitcher? Is it really smart of me to expend full energy on a slider in that situation?” Interestingly, while Brown cites several pitchers who say they work at max effort all of the time (including Nathan Eovaldi and Clayton Kershaw), Greinke said he did not. “I don’t do that,” he said. “I don’t think I physically could. I pick my times.”
SATURDAY: The Dodgers officially announced Wilson's signing via press release.
THURSDAY, 9:19pm: Wilson has passed his physical, so the deal is now official, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
1:39pm: The Dodgers have reached an agreement with reliever Brian Wilson, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown. It's a one-year, $10MM deal with a second year player option. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter) that the option's value is $9MM, meaning that Wilson is guaranteed at least $19MM on this two-year pact. Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweets that Wilson has another $700K of incentives built into each year of the deal.
Though Wilson will be receiving closer money from the Dodgers, he's fine with setting up Kenley Jansen if that's how it works out, notes Brown. Paying Wilson closer money can be offset by the fact that Jansen will be paid more like a setup man, as he projects to earn $4.8MM in arbitration this offseason, per MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
Wilson signed a $1MM, Major League contract with the Dodgers on July 30th last year after a long recovery from April 2012 Tommy John surgery. He returned in late August in dominant fashion, yielding just one run with a 21-to-6 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings between the regular season and the playoffs. His strong showing put him in line for a significant payday on the free agent market, and there was widespread interest in the bearded flamethrower. The Tigers, Mariners and Rockies were among the other teams interested in Wilson.
Wilson's player option is a nice safeguard for he and his agents at the MVP Sports Group. Should he thrive in Los Angeles as he did over his brief tenure there in 2013, he will hit the open market in the 2014-15 offseason as perhaps the top closer on the free agent market, positioning himself for a significant payday entering his age-33 season. Should he fall to injury or suffer a down season, he can simply elect to take a $9MM payday and look to cash in heading into his age-34 season, which we've seen numerous relievers do. Wilson's $10MM guarantee is slightly more than the one-year, $8.5MM guarantee that MLBTR's Steve Adams pegged him for in his free agent profile of Wilson back in late October.
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
TODAY, 10:07pm: The deal being discussed between the Dodgers and Wilson would guarantee one year and include a player option for a second, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter).
YESTERDAY, 12:06pm: The Dodgers and Wilson are only talking about a one-year deal, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). That would allow Wilson to hit the open market in search of a multiyear deal next year, coming off a potentially strong season. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Wilson has made it clear that he's willing to return as Kenley Jansen's setup man.
10:52am: The Dodgers are nearing an agreement with Brian Wilson, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports had recently tweeted that the two sides have been having discussions, noting that Joe Nathan's near-deal with the Tigers could accelerate the timetable.
Having fully healed from his second Tommy John surgery, Wilson returned to the Majors in August, signing a $1MM contract with the Dodgers. Wilson returned in dominant fashion, allowing just one run with a 21-to-6 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings of work between the regular season and the playoffs.
The Tigers are moving toward a deal with free agent, right-handed reliever Brian Wilson, Lynn Henning of the Detroit News reports, though a deal has not yet been reached. Wilson and agent Dan Lozano met on Sunday in Los Angeles with new Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, Henning adds.
With Joaquin Benoit and Jose Veras now on the open market after working from the back of the Detroit pen in 2013, the Tigers have been expected to be among the most active buyers of late-inning relievers. Wilson, who will turn 32 in March, returned from his second Tommy John surgery late last year with the Dodgers, posting a 0.66 ERA in 13 2/3 innings. He registered 8.6 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 in that stretch. Wilson checked in at 47th on MLBTR's Tim Dierkes's list of the top fifty free agents.
The Mariners' search for a closer has them in the market for right-handers Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour, among others, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Mariners are known to be in the market for a ninth-inning arm this winter, and Wilson and Balfour represent two of the highest-profile names at the position.
Wilson, 32 in March, returned in late August and fired 19 2/3 innings of one-run ball between the regular season and the playoffs for the Dodgers. Wilson whiffed 21 hitters and walked only four, flashing an average fastball velocity of 93.2 mph. His strong showing likely helped to convince teams that his second Tommy John surgery is safely in the rear-view mirror. He's caught the interest of the Tigers, Rockies and a slew of other teams.
Balfour, 36 next month, saved 62 games for the 2012-13 A's en route to a 2.56 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9. The Yankees, Tigers, Rockies, Rays and Angels have all already expressed interest in the Australian hurler, who is expected to sign with a new team due to the fact that he'll be too pricey for the A's.
It's a crowded market for relievers, but each can make a case for a multiyear deal. In general, it'd seem beneficial to sign early in the offseason, as this year's free agent class is rife with closer types, led by Joe Nathan.
For his latest Rumblings & Grumblings piece, ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with several executives about the ultimate destination of Robinson Cano. One NL executive said: "I keep hearing there's no interest. I don't believe it." Stark agrees and hypothesizes that the lack of a market for Cano has been well-crafted by the Yankees leaking their own seven-year, $168MM offer in reaction to Cano's $310MM demand. One AL exec told Stark: "If you had a situation where everyone remained objective and everyone played it smart and you had teams that thought they could sign Robinson Cano for $120 million, you'd probably have five or six teams in on it. Then you'd set $120 million as the starting point and start the bidding, and see how much higher it gets." Stark feels that by starting the bar high, the Yankees have set the early market to a market of one. The same NL exec who didn't buy the lack of interest said that eventually teams who are chasing Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Brian McCann will say, "Wait a second. Cano's a much better player than those guys," and change direction. Stark runs down some possible late-emerging suitors. Here's more from his excellent piece…
- Stark reports an unknown wrinkle in the David Price trade saga. Price signed a one-year, $10.1125MM contract to avoid arbitration last January, but $5MM of that sum comes in the form of a signing bonus that is deferred to next year. While it was presented as a tax-related issue at the time, Stark notes that the Rays can use it as leverage in a trade, agreeing to take a slightly lesser package if the acquiring team pays that additional $5MM.
- The Phillies upped the ante and guaranteed Carlos Ruiz a third year because they were convinced that he would sign with the Red Sox if they didn't. The Phils looked hard at alternatives but were highly uncomfortable with the prices on other targets. For that reason, other teams haven't been as critical of the deal, though they've all offered high praise to Ruiz's agent, Marc Kligman.
- The Ruiz contract helps both McCann and particularly Jarrod Saltalamacchia, agents and an AL executive told Stark. Stark has heard that one reason the Red Sox were so interested in Ruiz was that they don't want to commit more than two years to a catcher, suggesting that Saltalamacchia is a goner in Boston.
- The Tigers' search for a closer has begun to lean more in favor of Brian Wilson than Joe Nathan, but Wilson's agent, Dan Lozano, may want to wait out the market, which isn't GM Dave Dombrowski's style, Stark points out.
- Bartolo Colon and agent Adam Katz aren't rushing into one-year contracts as they wait to see if someone will tack on a second guaranteed year in the wake of Tim Hudson's two-year, $23MM deal.
Earlier today it was reported that the Rockies are one of the teams that has checked in on Ike Davis, but according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, that's just one of many avenues the team is looking into in an attempt to fill the void left by Todd Helton's retirement. Colorado has also checked in on free agents James Loney, Justin Morneau and Mike Napoli and also has some degree of interest in Mike Morse (Twitter links). More news on the boys from Denver…
- In regards to the Rockies' previously reported interest in Brian Wilson, Renck tweets that the team will need to pay closer money to secure the Beard's services in 2014.
- MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby spoke with senior VP of Major League operations Bill Geivett, who reiterated that Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez will not be traded this winter. The Rockies feel that they are close to contention and are focused on adding good players as opposed to subtracting them, writes Ringolsby. He quotes Geivett: "We spent 33 days in first place and (42) more in second place last year. Things have to happen, but it's not that far."
- Finding a bat to replace Helton is the team's "No. 1 priority" writes Ringolsby, and their preference is to fill it with a left-handed bat, which would bode well for Loney and Morneau.
- Ringolsby also notes that the team can't ignore the black hole in the fifth slot in the rotation. The Rockies went 62-50 in games started by one of Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood or Juan Nicasio. In their 50 games started by a combination of seven others, Colorado was 12-38, Ringolsby points out. They could look to add two starting options in an effort to upgrade over Nicasio as well.
- Finally from Ringolsby, neither 2013 first-rounder Jonathan Gray or 2012 supplemental-rounder Eddie Butler will open 2014 in the Majors, though each could be up as early as May 1 if need be. That seems to be a particularly aggressive timeline for Gray, who threw just 24 innings at High-A last season.
The Astros may not have a realistic shot at winning next season, but they can offer playing time and have a bright future, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. "Someone looking to win a World Series title next year may not think about the Astros as the first place to go sign," says GM Jeff Luhnow. "But having said that, we also have an opportunity."
Luhnow also says the Astros could make a major move if the right opportunity presented itself. "If it’s the right situation for the right player, the right length of years. Houston’s a big city," he says. "We’ve got the capacity to compete with the big boys ultimately, and whether or not we start this year or next year after that, I think eventually it’s coming." Whether a top-notch free agent would be willing to come to Houston at this point is an open question, however. Here's more from around the big leagues.
- The Astros aren't likely to acquire first baseman Ike Davis in a trade with the Mets, Drellich writes. Drellich also notes that the Astros did not have interest in Marlon Byrd, who recently signed with the Philles. Still, the Astros are hoping to add a power bat at first base or in the outfield, and they're open to finding one via free agency or trade.
- The Athletics' signing of Nick Punto doesn't mean they're likely to deal Jed Lowrie, writes the New York Post's Joel Sherman. Punto "has nothing to do with Jed Lowrie. Jed is our starting shortstop," says A's assistant GM David Forst. Lowrie is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
- Brian Wilson wouldn't mind returning to the Dodgers as something other than a closer, as long as they pay him like one, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times tweets. Wilson was excellent down the stretch for the Dodgers last season, but they already have a very good closer in Kenley Jansen.
- Free agent Jamey Carroll is attracting interest, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports. The infielder will be 40 in February, but he does not want to retire. Carroll hit .211/.267/.251 in 249 plate appearances with the Twins and Royals last season.
- Lefty Randy Wolf is on the comeback trail after sitting out the 2013 season, and he plans to audition for MLB teams later this month, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets. Wolf posted a 5.65 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 157 2/3 innings with the Brewers and Orioles in 2012.
General Manager Brian Cashman told reporters, including Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (on Twitter), that you can rule out the Yankees signing Brian Wilson after his agent told the team he won't shave his beard. While you ponder that, here's the latest on Wilson..