The San Francisco Giants are not likely to tender former closer Brian Wilson a contract, leaving him free to sign with any MLB team as a free agent. Wilson missed most of the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and, as the Tigers saw up close in October, was more-than-adequately replaced by Sergio Romo.
Who is he?
As a baseball player, Wilson has been pretty solid throughout his career. From 2008 to 2011, Wilson was one of the most prolific closers in Major League Baseball, racking up 163 saves. He had an ERA of 3.00 in 264 1/3 innings during that time span and was the backbone of the Giants' bullpen as they upset the Texas Rangers to win the 2010 World Series.
Off the field, Wilson has arguably the most prolific personality in the game. His Taco Bell commercial deserves mentioning, and just about every interview he gives is worth watching multiple times. Oh, and the beard... well, it needs no introduction.
Why should we care?
While he can be inconsistent at times -- he blew 23 saves in the four-year period mentioned above -- Wilson has the type of stuff that you look for in a closer. He has struck out over a batter per inning throughout his career and was fanning 10 batters per 9 innings during his four year heyday as the Giants' closer. He was nearly perfect during the Giants' World Series run in 2010, allowing just one unearned run in 11 2/3 innings in the playoffs.
Another plus to Wilson's game is that he doesn't allow many home runs. He has only given up 17 dingers throughout his 6+ year career. Meanwhile, Joaquin Benoit has allowed 19 home runs since signing with the Tigers in 2011.
Why should we stay away?
I'm not as comfortable as some of you with a reliever coming off of Tommy John surgery, as we saw in the Joakim Soria post. I will only believe that Wilson is back to his old self when we see him actually back to being his old self.
Wilson's command can also be an issue at times. He tends to have week-long stretches where he can't find the strike zone whatsoever, a large reason why he has walked close to four batters per nine innings throughout his career. The aforementioned tendency to blow several saves in a season could also be an issue, especially if he gets off to a slow start.
Will he end up in Detroit?
Common sense says no, but my gut tells me that this might happen. Wilson has flown under the radar all offseason, an odd concept for one of the most marketable players in the MLB. He might make fans pine for the days of Jose Valverde at times, but Wilson is an instant upgrade for the Tigers bullpen who will probably come at a major discount. And hey, how much fun would it be to sign another closer that opposing fans absolutely can't stand? I'm in.