Tigers rumors: Team may prefer Brian Wilson as closer

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It appears the Tigers' making a decision between signing either Joe Nathan or Brian Wilson as their new closer is coming down to money.

ESPN's Buster Olney is reporting the Detroit Tigers may prefer Brian Wilson over other free agent closer options.

The money words being, "Depending upon where the dollar figures fall." Apparently, money may be playing a bigger factor for the Tigers this off season than first believed.

The top closer the Tigers have been linked to in the free agent market is Joe Nathan, numerous reports claiming Detroit  was the top team on his free agency wish list. But Nathan is also 39-years-old, wants at least a two-year deal and declined a $9 million contract option with the Texas Rangers in order to become a free agent. Common sense says Nathan is going to want at least $20 million plus over two seasons to put his name on the line which is dotted.

No matter how good Nathan is, and he's been an elite closer for several years, that's a remarkable amount of money to give any relief pitcher. It's quite possibly more than the Tigers are willing to pay.

A three-time All-Star who averaged 41 saves a season for the San Francisco Giants from 2008-11, the eccentric Wilson was allowed to become a free agent after missing nearly all the 2012 with an arm injury. He also missed much of 2013 after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery. Once fully recovered, Wilson pitched extremely well for the Los Angeles Dodgers in a set up role over the final six weeks of 2013, posting a 0.66 ERA, striking out 13 in 13 2/3 innings.

With his injury history and seeing limited action in 2013, Wilson is a riskier signing than Nathan. But if money is a factor, Wilson is a far cheaper option.

A marriage between Wilson and the Tigers could be one of convenience. Wilson would need to create a market for his services in 2015, which gives the Tigers one more season to groom Bruce Rondon as his replacement. Wilson being a less expensive signing than Nathan would be a bonus to a team staring at upcoming contract extension negotiations with Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera.

Being Rondon was anointed closer of the future by GM Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers are looking for a place-holder at the position. Hoping to prove he's fully healthy and back in prime form, Wilson may be willing to settle for a less expensive, one-year deal, hoping to cash in next off-season.

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