Brian Wilson signed a one year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of July. Although his return to MLB was filled with countless question marks, Wilson proved himself to be ready and worthy of a spot on a major league squad.
With his Tommy John surgery in the rear view mirror, Wilson left the Dodgers’ farm system in late August and never looked back. Despite only having a chance to appear in 18 games with the Dodgers before the postseason began, he wowed both his fans and critics in 2013. Including the postseason, Wilson pitched 19.2 innings in the majors while allowing only one run to score in that time. Wilson’s impressive 0.915 WHIP and 0.46 ERA in 24 appearances certainly sent the message that he is back and ready to be a contributing factor to a MLB team.
Now, the question must be answered “Where will Brian Wilson end up in 2014?” The Dodgers would clearly love to have Wilson back if he can continue that kind of production in seasons to come. The problem lies in two uncertainties: Wilson’s contentedness to be a set up man and the kind of contract he wants.
Although Wilson has not expressed any dissatisfaction with being the Dodgers’ set up reliever to closer Kenley Jansen, you can reasonably assume that Wilson remembers and misses his days as the San Francisco Giants’ dominant closer. Wilson has the heart and nerves of a closer and could be the shutdown man for another club if he wants. That leads to the second issue as Wilson does not have to continue with the Dodgers and many clubs will be looking for tried and true relievers in the offseason. If Wilson gets a lot of attention – and he most likely will – and teams start offering him ridiculous amounts of cash, the Dodgers will need to counter wisely.
Ideally, the Dodgers should try to sign Wilson to a short contract, either one or two years, so as to limit the risk of anything going wrong and having him on contract for way too long. Wilson still has not pitched a whole season since his surgery, so the Dodgers cannot go crazy with what they might offer him. Dustin Nosler of feelinkindablue.com told me he thinks Wilson could get a contract as solid as Brandon League’s four-year, $27.5 million contract. I believe the Dodgers would do better to offer Wilson a two-year, $10 million contract which puts him a shade below the $6.5 million per year that he was getting with the Giants back in his dominant years before surgery.
If the Dodgers cannot bring Wilson back, teams like the New York Yankees who just lost the greatest closer of all time in Mariano Rivera and the struggling New York Mets whose closer Bobby Parnell needs neck surgery for a herniated disk will be looking to hunt down great relievers like Wilson.