Brian Wilson an Intriguing Option for Toronto Blue Jays


The Toronto Blue Jays have stood on the sidelines as the relief pitching market begins to shrink, and given the dollars involved in many cases, they have been wise to do so.  It’s become clear that unless Alex Anthopoulos can find an impact reliever through trade, the bullpen will likely be bolstered with B-level free agents.  The Blue Jays have left no stone unturned thus far, reportedly even holding preliminary discussions with Kyle Farnsworth, but a new and interesting name has been added to the mix.

Brian Wilson was Designated for Assignment yesterday by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who felt that he and his $9.5M contract would not be part of their bullpen rebuild.  With that price tag unlikely to be grabbed by any team, Brian Wilson would be available at a veteran’s minimum contract on the open market, while the Dodgers pay him the big money not to play for them.

First, the Blue Jays will need to determine if Brian Wilson is worth any contract at all.  From 2008 to 2011, Wilson recorded save totals of 41, 38, 48 and 36 while supporting those statistics with, in some cases, encouraging peripheral numbers.  His greatest season came in 2010, where he posted a 1.81 ERA and 11.2 K/9 over 74.2 IP.  Even in such a dominant season, though, Wilson recorded a WHIP of 1.179, just below his career 1.356 mark, which suggests that he will allow his share of base runners.

Of course, those seasons are long gone for Brian Wilson.  He was lucky to turn a strong 13.2 IP in 2013 into a lucrative contract that the Dodgers rightfully regret from their old regime.  The 2014 version of Wilson would have no spot in an MLB bullpen, even Toronto’s, so the consideration of Wilson with the Blue Jays must be framed as a reclamation project, which I believe Alex Anthopoulos would be open to given his willingness to entertain a Closer coming off a down year.

Wilson’s injury history is also a critical factor.  He missed the 2012 season and much of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, which was his second after a 2003 operation while at LSU.  

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Despite this, I feel that the minimal cost involved here should force the Toronto Blue Jays to seriously consider Wilson.  Not only that, but I also think that the opportunity available in Toronto should force Wilson to strongly consider the Blue Jays.

The 2014 offseason has seen some very lucrative deals handed to pitchers with much less impressive careers than Brian Wilson’s.  More importantly, several of these pitchers had turned one strong year into an inflated contract value.  The opportunity to set up or even close ball games for the Toronto Blue Jays should be attractive to any B or C-level reliever as the market thins, as it could boost their value considerably for the 2015 offseason following a 1-year deal.

Wilson is one of the MLB’s ultimate love-or-hate players, given his eccentric on-field antics and a personality that is extremely unique (For further research, see: Wilson, Brian.  “2011 ESPY Awards, Spandex Leotard Tuxedo”).  In a market of boom-or-bust options, though, the opportunity to harness one more year of vintage Wilson could be worth the small risk involved.  If the Toronto Blue Jays could someway, somehow make it into the playoffs, remember that Wilson is a man who has recorded the final out of a World Series Championship, and pitched 18.0 shutout innings in the MLB playoffs.