The Reds announced this afternoon that southpaw Justin Wilson has exercised a player option to return to Cincinnati in 2022. He’ll lock in a $2.3MM salary.
Wilson signed a fairly complex deal with the Yankees last offseason. Guaranteed a $2.85MM salary for 2021, Wilson could either opt-in to next year’s $2.3MM salary or decline the option. Doing so would’ve forced the team to decide whether to exercise a $7.15MM option or buy him out for $1.15MM.
There’s no chance the Reds — who acquired Wilson alongside Luis Cessa in a midseason deal — would’ve exercised their end of the pact. Not only has Cincinnati signaled a clear desire to shed payroll, Wilson is coming off the worst season of his career. The veteran southpaw hadn’t posted an ERA higher than 3.66 during any year from 2017-20, but that mark spiked to 5.29 as Wilson’s swing-and-miss plummeted. After consistently punching out close to or more than 30% of opposing hitters over the past half-decade, he fanned just 19.5% of batters faced this past season and generated whiffs on a tiny 8.6% of his offerings.
To his credit, Wilson did post a 2.81 ERA in sixteen frames with Cincinnati after the trade. That’s obviously far better than his 7.50 mark in pinstripes, but his peripherals were generally unimpressive with both clubs. The 34-year-old will try to right the ship and again cement himself as a trustworthy high-leverage arm in a return run at Great American Ball Park.