The Indians have agreed to terms with reliever Alex Wilson, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The right-hander receives a minor-league deal with an invitation to MLB Spring Training.
Wilson will need to earn his way onto the Indians roster this spring. If he can do so, he would stand to earn $1.25MM for the 2019 season. The deal also includes a $750K incentives package.
The 32-year-old Wilson was a perennial contributor to the Tigers bullpen over the prior four seasons. All told, through parts of six MLB campaigns, he carries a 3.23 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 along with a 44.8% groundball rate. The bottom-line numbers were similar last year, when Wilson ran a 3.36 ERA in his 61 2/3 frames while boosting his groundball rate to 49.2%.
Any team would certainly love to have a durable, low-3 reliever in its pen. The issue with Wilson is whether that sort of performance can really be anticipated moving forward. The Detroit organization obviously wasn’t optimistic, as it non-tendered him rather than paying a projected $2.8MM salary. And the rest of the league declined to come forward with a 40-man spot before the start of camp.
Wilson sits in range of 93 mph with his four-seam and two-seam fastballs. He throws breaking balls as well but relies most heavily on cutter/slider offering. Wilson’s hard-to-classify main pitch was more effective than ever last year even as he boosted its usage to the point that he utilized it in half of the pitches he delivered.
To date, Wilson has maxed out that arsenal and done just enough to get outs, even without a swing-and-miss offering or sustained, elite groundball production. He doesn’t issue many walks and has historically not outperformed Statcast’s expectations (career .317 wOBA-against vs. .314 xwOBA-against), but ERA estimators haven’t been enthused (career 3.81 FIP, 4.39 xFIP, 4.14 SIERA).
Those interested in learning more about where Wilson has been and where he might be headed would do well to check out this lengthy look from SB Nation’s Brandon Day.