The Brewers announced that left-hander Justin Wilson was signed to a one-year contract with a club option for the 2024 season. Since Wilson underwent Tommy John surgery last June, it isn’t known whether or not he’ll be able to pitch this season, but Milwaukee will retain control over his services when he is healthy.
The ACES client will make $850K in 2023 and the option is valued at $2.5MM with a $150K buyout; it’s a $1MM guarantee overall. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, Milwaukee placed righty Jason Alexander on the 60-day injured list after he suffered a shoulder strain. He’ll be out until the end of May at the earliest.
Wilson will remain in the NL Central, as he had been a member of the Reds organization since he was dealt from the Yankees as part of a deal prior to the 2021 trade deadline. Wilson ended up posting a 2.75 ERA over his 19 2/3 total innings with Cincinnati, but his elbow problems limited him to only 3 2/3 innings of work in 2022. Wilson averaged 67 games and 61 innings per season from 2013-18, though he missed significant time in 2019 due to elbow soreness and then in 2021 due to a hamstring.
Through 11 MLB seasons, Wilson has a 3.41 career ERA, a solidly above-average 25.9% strikeout rate, and a subpar 10.7% walk rate. The free passes are the only real weak link on Wilson’s resume, as the southpaw has done well to induce grounders and limit hard contact over his career. The 35-year-old also has roughly identical career splits against both left-handed and right-handed batters.
This solid performance hasn’t prevented Wilson from bouncing around the league, as he has seen big league action with six different teams over the course of his career. The Brewers are certainly hopeful of being the seventh, perhaps as early as this summer if Wilson is on the short end of the usual 14-16 month recovery period for Tommy John patients. On the plus side, Wilson won’t require as much arm build-up since he’ll be working out of the bullpen, so it would seem like there’s a decent chance that he’ll be able to get on the mound before the 2023 campaign is over.
Hoby Milner is the only left-hander projected for Milwaukee’s Opening Day bullpen, and Alex Claudio, Thomas Pannone, and Robert Gasser are the southpaws in camp as non-roster invitees. Aaron Ashby might have also factored into the Brew Crew’s relief plans if he wasn’t kept stretched out as rotation depth, but Ashby is now going to be out of action for several months due to shoulder inflammation. While Wilson doesn’t provide any immediate help to the bullpen, he at least represents some left-handed relief depth down the road, while the Brewers figure out their plans for the start of the season.