Not too long ago, Brian Wilson was considered among the top closers in baseball. There was no doubt that he was the most interesting and probably strangest amongst the bunch as well.
But “The Beard” only appeared in two games last season for the San Francisco Giants before undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing the rest of the season, including the Giants’ run as World Series champions.
Sergio Romo, another bearded wonder, emerged as the Giants’ closer, which led the team to non-tender Wilson, making him a free agent.
So far this offseason, interest in the eccentric right-handed reliever has been minimal. He recently worked out for the New York Mets, a team in desperate need of bullpen help, but the Mets’ brass was not impressed by the recovering 30-year-old.
At this point, Wilson has a few options. He can market himself to non-contending teams in search of a capable closer. He can also pitch himself as a setup reliever for a team that has a closer, in which case he would also be an insurance closer.
But as the offseason progresses, Wilson might have to accept a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training to prove that he has fully recovered and can be effective.
The Mets likely were only interested in bringing in Wilson if he would accept a minor-league deal. New York already has a closer in Frank Francisco, regardless of his 5.53 ERA, but even so, another arm in the bullpen would have helped.
A Mets’ source claimed that Wilson is physically still not ready to go, but the team would consider giving him another tryout during spring training if he’s still available and the team has a need for arms.
Wilson’s surgery was actually the second of his career, as he also underwent a Tommy John procedure in 2003. Two surgeries in that short a time certainly raise red flags as to how he will rebound this time around.
Relief pitching in general usually involved much turnover from year-to-year. Based on his track record as a three-time All-Star, it is strange that no one has taken a chance yet on Wilson for a relief role — not necessarily as a closer.
What’s the worst that could happen? A team could sign him to a one-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $3-4 million and hope he can regain form. He earned $8.5 million last year during his injury season, but he has to realize that the market for him is nowhere near that mark.
If he works out for that team, it will be viewed as a great signing. But if not, it’s not like that team handed the reins of their closer role on a multi-year deal.
As it’s looking now, Wilson will either accept a minor-league deal, or he might even wait until the season starts and hold out until a team suffers a major injury to a reliever.
Not too many guys would be higher on the list than Wilson if that was the case.