Brian Wilson needs to be a New York Yankee in 2013.
Now that relievers like Joakim Soria, Mike Adams, Ryan Madson, and Jonathan Broxton are signed, Brian Wilson is one of the biggest impact names still on the open market.
With Rafael Soriano opting out of the final season of his three-year contract, the Yankees should be looking for a replacement eighth-inning/closer-in-waiting reliever. Wilson is the perfect match for that role.
It’s no secret that the Yankees are in need of additional help in the bullpen (no matter what Brian Cashman says). As of right now, the back end of the bullpen consists of Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. One more power arm could make the difference in aiding a rotation that, aside from CC Sabathia, has two senior members—Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte—who both have an increased injury risk due to their age. Furthermore, with Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Michael Pineda, there is a lot of inconsistency that may result in a higher workload for the bullpen. As is the case with most MLB bullpens, the more arms the better.
Something else in need of replacing this season is Nick Swisher’s role as provider of clubhouse personality. With one of the biggest personalities in baseball, Wilson would be able to fill that role with ease.
In addition, Wilson fits into the Yankees’ new fiscally responsible offseason mindset. Wilson can most likely be brought in on a one-year deal, where he would be willing to prove that he is back in form before looking for a better deal next offseason. If Wilson can regain his pre-injury form, he would be a steal at any price less than the $14 million Soriano walked away from.
The deal would be advantageous to the Yankees, allowing them to get a closer look at Wilson this season to determine if he is worthy of replacing a likely retiring Rivera next year. If the Yankees have Wilson in their possession this year, it will definitely be easier to sign him for 2014 and beyond.
Furthermore, the Yankees’ signings so far this offseason are fairly proven commodities. In Pettitte and Kuroda, you have a good idea of what kind of players you are getting. Wilson, however, comes with a bit of uncertainty—and with uncertainty comes the ability to exceed expectations.
On an aging roster, you want players who may be able to improve their play and bring something unexpected to the table. By bringing Wilson to New York on a one-year, show-us-what-you’ve-got deal, you leave yourself the space to be surprised.
With that being said, there are two obstacles in the way of Wilson signing his name on the dotted line.
First, he would not have the coveted closer’s role, which is currently being filled by the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera. But coming off ACL surgery, Rivera’s full talent is far from a sure thing this season. If Wilson is patient enough to bide his time in the eighth inning, he could easily find himself in the same position that Soriano found himself in last season.
The second issue, which could prove the bigger of the two problems, is the beard. Wilson, who is known simply as “the Beard,” would undoubtedly clash with the policy in the Bronx of no hair below the upper lip.
Plenty of Wilson’s bearded brethren have famously shaved their scruff and chopped off their locks in recent years in order to appease Yankee management, including Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Randy Johnson.
Ditching the beard could be seen as symbolic of a fresh start with a new team; coming to the Yankees would be an opportunity for Wilson to start a new, beardless chapter in his career.
And if indeed Wilson and the Yankees are a true match, it would be foolish for either side to turn down the opportunity just because of a few—albeit extremely long—hairs.
Taking a chance on Wilson would bolster not only the Yankees bullpen, but their chances of success as a team this season.