Egocentric pitcher Brian Wilson ineffectively executed a blazing departure from the San Francisco Giants after returning to the big leagues from his second Tommy John surgery, taking his talents to Southern California while donning blue and white.
Wilson became the most polarizing figure in baseball after hurling the final pitch of the 2010 World Series, steadfastly developing a Hollywood-like reputation. His antics were beloved in San Francisco, where his persona grew faster than the hair on his chin.
“The Beard” is now entering free agency for the first time in his career, where he’ll assuredly spur interest from multiple teams looking to bolster their bullpen. The Giants seemingly shouldn’t be inclined to rekindle a fragmented relationship with their former closer, although Wilson was dominant in 2013.
The 31-year-old right-handed veteran recorded a microscopic 0.66 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 13.2 innings pitched. He allowed just 12 base runners in 18 regular season games and was equally impressive in the postseason, where he didn’t allow a run in six innings of work.
The eccentric hurler might have worn out his welcome in San Francisco, but the Giants’ tendency to continuously prioritize strengthening their pitching staff prompts the possibility of Wilson changing colors again this offseason.
The Giants have several key issues to address this offseason, most notably a gaping void in left field and a severe lack of bench depth. However, San Francisco has developed a renowned reputation for winning because of stellar pitching in spite of mediocre offensive production. If the Giants want to reignite the type of success they enjoyed when Wilson was at his peak before surgery, perhaps re-signing the fiery reliever is a smart business decision.
Reasserting Wilson into the Giants’ current stash of battle-tested relievers has the potential to launch their bullpen into untouchable status. However, it’s unknown whether Wilson seeks prominent status as a closer. It seems unlikely that “The Beard” would readopt his former role if he were to re-sign with the Giants, specifically because of the success Sergio Romo has experienced.
The other bearded one — Romo — saved 38 games for the Giants in 2013, a number that amounted to half of their wins. Romo posted a respectable 2.54 ERA and 1.077 WHIP while also striking out 8.7 batters per nine innings pitched. The Giants ultimately don’t need to re-sign Wilson for the sake of adding a closer, but the move would add unparalleled versatility to their bullpen.
San Francisco hasn’t reportedly been interested in bringing back Wilson, but remains a key player for left-handed specialist Javier Lopez, who shares mutual interest in continuing his career in orange and black despite willingly testing the open market. Lopez was outstanding in 2013, recording a 1.83 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 39.1 innings pitched.
If the Giants are serious about prioritizing its pitching staff over targeting a game-changing free agent bat, it would be preemptive to dismiss the possibility of re-signing Wilson. The three-time All-Star owns a career 3.10 ERA and 171 saves over eight seasons. He reestablished himself as a dominant late-inning pitcher in an arch-rival’s uniform last season, seemingly demolishing his high status in the City by the Bay.
But the Giants religiously prioritize upgrading their pitching staff over reloading on offense, and Wilson is a talent that will be hard to ignore.