After getting swept in the 2012 World Series, the Detroit Tigers wanted to make a couple of moves during free agency to strengthen its roster going into the 2013 season. While the Tigers have added outfielder Torii Hunter, and backup catcher Brayan Pena, the team has still not addressed their closing pitcher position.
General manager Dave Dombrowski seems perfectly content with calling up minor leaguer Bruce Rondon to be the Tigers 2013 closer. Rondon is a hard throwing pitcher who hits triple digits in the late innings and has a lot of experience saving games in the minors. Rondon recently ranked in my top ten Tigers prospect list. However, the Tigers have an opportunity to bring in an experienced MLB closing pitcher who is still on the free agent market.
I’m talking about former San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson. The Giants declined to tender a one-year deal to Wilson in the off-season. Wilson missed almost the entirety of the 2012 season with an injury and made $8.5 million from the Giants. A deal from the Giants would have had to be $6.8 million for the next season under contract rules from the MLB.
Wilson underwent Tommy John surgery in April for the second time in his career. Wilson also had the same surgery done in 2003, while pitching for LSU. The Tigers would have the risk of Wilson not being 100% from an injury, but would have Rondon and Phil Coke to fall back on if this happens. The Tigers saved $9 million by not signing Jose Valverde, who blew several games in the MLB Playoffs.
Wilson led the majors with 48 saves in the 2010 season. That year, he helped the Giants win the World Series with a strong 0.77 WHIP and 0.00 ERA in 11.2 innings during the postseason. Wilson has saved 30 games in four straight seasons prior to his injury.
In his career, Wilson has 171 saves and 25 blown saves. Wilson has a career 3.21 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. Over 320 innings, Wilson has 340 strikeouts. The Giants drafted Wilson in the 24th round of the 2003 MLB Draft, taking a chance that he had recovered from Tommy John surgery.
The Tigers now need to do the same and take a chance on the Giants closer. Wilson would be a great addition to an already strong returning lineup. Giants fans started the “Fear the Beard” campaign to go along with Wilson’s thick dark colored facial hair. It’s time for the Tigers to bring the beard to Motown.