SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 8: Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants reacts after being taken out of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 9th inning during a MLB baseball game at AT&T Park April 8, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Giants won the game in extra innings 5-4. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The free agent reliever market got a little more interesting today, as the San Francisco Giants did not tender a contract to relief pitcher Brian Wilson, effectively making him a free agent. The 30-year-old right-hander, who missed nearly all of 2012 with an elbow injury, could make for a cheap and effective member of the 2013 Phillies bullpen.
I'll allow you a moment to recover from gasping at that statement. But in light of the trade with Wilton Lopez falling apart, the Phillies are in a position to add another relief pitcher to improve their bullpen.
Yes, Brian Wilson has that “he's so goofy that he is annoying” shtick going on, and he was personally responsible for a lot of post-2010 NLCS anguish, but he also happens to be really, really good at his job. Since becoming a full-time closer in 2008, Wilson has a 3.00 ERA with a 10.1 K/9 over 264 innings through 2011 to go along with 163 saves. His 3.8 BB/9 rate isn't ideal, but his ability to strike out opposing hitters compensates for any control issues rather nicely.
Bringing Wilson in would be a risky move considering he just had his second Tommy John surgery, but that also means he won't command a significant salary. He earned $8.5MM with the Giants last season, and it's not unreasonable to expect him to accept a much smaller salary in 2013 as he works to rebuild his value and prove that he is healthy.
The question, now, is whether or not he would play for a team that doesn't need a closing pitcher. A great deal of his value (to other teams) is his ability to rack up saves, but with the Phillies, he wouldn't really have that opportunity, so long as Jonathan Papelbon is healthy and effective. But Wilson might not have many suitors looking for a power pitcher coming off his second major elbow surgery.
It's a longshot that he'd come to Philly (and even if he did, the fans might have a heart attack), but signing him on a one-year deal for half of his 2012 salary would be a great move for the Phillies, even at the risk of his elbow exploding every time he throws a fastball.