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Detroit Tigers Reportedly Chasing Free Agent Reliever Brian Wilson


Oct 18, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson before game six of the National League Championship Series baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report by Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, the Tigers are “trying to work out a deal” with free agent closer Brian Wilson.

"A source told The Detroit News that negotiations with the ex-Dodgers and Giants reliever were serious. The source requested anonymity because a deal had not been reached.It is known Wilson met Sunday with Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and with Wilson’s agent, Dan Lozano, during an earnest business session in Los Angeles."

Wilson, who missed pretty much all of 2012 and half of 2013 after having Tommy John surgery, was searching for a place to land a year ago while recovering before finally signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers in July. His deal was for $1 million. He ended the season as a reliable piece of the Dodger bullpen, allowing only one run in 13.2 regular season innings and then pitching six scoreless innings in the postseason. Combined, he struck out 21 batters and walked six in just under 20 innings.

That’s not a huge sample, but it was enough to prove that he still has plenty of effectiveness in his surgically repaired arm. Wilson served as the primary closer for the San Francisco Giants for four years, though he was probably only an elite reliever in one of those years (2010). His ERA and FIP numbers were generally solid (career 3.04 and 3.10 respectively), but his home run suppression skill was likely boosted by his homer un-friendly home ballpark (career 3.51 xFIP).

Wilson stands to make a good bit more than $1 million in free agency this season as teams try to fill up the back of their bullpen. MLB Trade Rumors predicts a one-year, $8.5 million contract — which feels a bit too rich for me — but that’s probably the type of money some team will pay. It is, at least, not a completely ludicrous amount if you feel like he can be a reliable closer — especially if it only is a one-year commitment — but that’s 1.5 WAR kind of money, and Wilson has only met or topped that (by fWAR) twice in his career. His 2014 Steamer projection currently has him being worth 0.5 wins in 55 innings.

I think, on the whole, I’d be much more in favor of Brian Wilson being a member of the Tigers than Brian Wilson’s beard being a member of the Tigers. That ugly thing is enough for me to be against a potential signing.