Brian Wilson Would Be Wise Addition to Weak Dodgers Bullpen

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJuly 30, 2013

April 12, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson delivers a pitch during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.  The Giants won 4-2.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers can improve their playoff chances by signing free-agent reliever Brian Wilson, as he would give the team’s bullpen a much-needed boost.


UPDATE: Tuesday, July 30 at 2:50 p.m. ET by Benjamin Klein

Wilson has agreed to sign with the Dodgers, per Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports:

The reliever could be with Los Angeles in around two weeks, per Brown:

Brown also answers the question everyone is asking:

---End of Update---


Wilson has 171 saves in 315 games over the course of his seven-year career, all with San Francisco. The three-time All-Star has a pair of World Series rings—even though he missed most of the Giants' title run last year—and also received NL MVP and Cy Young award votes back in 2010. Unfortunately, the closer blew out his arm last season after just two appearances.

The 31-year-old had Tommy John surgery thereafter, and when his contract expired at the end of last season, the Giants decided not to bring him back. San Francisco has been going with Sergio Romo in the ninth inning ever since the injury to Wilson, and the team’s current closer has been great at getting the job done.

Even though Wilson hasn’t pitched in the big leagues for more than a season, he still was one of the game’s best prior to having elbow surgery. In 2011, he was 36-for-41 in save opportunities and posted a 3.11 ERA. He was even better a year earlier, saving 48 games and posting a 1.81 ERA.

From 2008 through 2011, Wilson was the eighth-best reliever in baseball in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs. But the injury definitely should have some organizations hesitant as to what’s to come in the future. There’s a chance that he just doesn’t have what it takes anymore. That, however, doesn’t seem to be the case.

In a recent audition for interested teams, the right-hander was impressive, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. “He looked good,” a scout told Knobler. “His fastball was 90-93 mph. [He’s] not far away.” That bodes well for the team that lands him, especially if it’s the Dodgers.

Los Angeles has failed to get consistent production out of its bullpen this season. The bullpen as a hole ranks ninth in the NL in terms of WAR, per FanGraphs. The team’s relievers also have the fifth-worst collective ERA in the Senior Circuit. The first-place Dodgers are currently on their second closer of the season.

Brandon League started the season as the ninth-inning guy, but he failed to be successful. Through 38 appearances in 2013, the right-hander is 14-for-18 in save opportunities and has a 5.17 ERA. Kenley Jansen is the current closer, and he’s 14-for-17 in save chances. He's allowed 13 earned runs in 53.1 innings (2.19 ERA).

Aside from Jansen, Paco Rodriguez and J.P. Howell are the only other two relievers on the active roster who have been the slightest bit valuable this season. Those three are the only guys in the bullpen who have a WAR of 0.2 or higher on the year, per FanGraphs. That’s a problem if Los Angeles is going to be in the playoffs.

It’s unclear as to how much Wilson is asking for, but in reality, it probably isn’t going to be too much. His absence for nearly all of last season likely means he won’t be making a ton of money. Keep in mind that his contract will likely on be for the remainder of the season as well.

No matter how much the reliever wants, there’s no question that the Dodgers have the cash to land him. If Wilson wants to pitch in Los Angeles, there’s no reason for the team not to sign him. The Dodgers could use the bullpen depth down the stretch and he could turn out to be the same guy he was back in 2011. He’s worth a shot.


All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 29. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus and all contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts.