As was first reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Mets watched free agent reliever Brian Wilson at a private workout this past Saturday. According to Nightengale, Sandy Alderson, Dan Warthen, and a team trainer were in attendance for the workout that took place at UCLA. Wilson is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, and has stated that he expects to be ready by Opening Day.
Since news came out regarding the fact that the Mets watched Wilson pitch, each beat writer has offered an opinion. According to Mark Carig of Newsday, it’s “unclear” as to whether the Mets will offer Wilson a major league deal. Similarly, Adam Rubin tweeted that the Mets would jump at the chance to sign Wilson to a minor league deal. It’s not clear if Carig and/or Rubin are editorializing, so it’s impossible to know what the Mets might offer Wilson, and when that offer may come.
What we do know, is that the Mets sent an important trio of personnel to California to watch Wilson pitch. It’s also being reported that in addition to Saturday’s workout, Wilson also met with Alderson earlier last week and was “intrigued” about the possibility of signing with the Mets.
Due to the fact that the Alderson regime has seemed allergic to the free agent market, many fans are questioning whether or not the Mets’ interest in Wilson is sincere. Because of this front office’s track record, it’s understandable that those fans feel that way. Still, it makes little sense to dispatch your general manager, pitching coach, and trainer to a private workout across the country if your interest in the player you’re going to watch isn’t sincere.
One would have to think the Mets’ interest in Wilson is serious, but that any offer they make him is contingent on whether or not he appeared healthy during the workout. Sandy Alderson was quoted yesterday as saying that he wasn’t sure whether or not the Mets would extend an offer to Wilson. If we’ve learned anything from Alderson in his time here, it’s to take what he says with an enormous grain of salt. Alderson is someone who could trade for Giancarlo Stanton, have the paperwork in his back pocket, and deny that the Mets have interest. He doesn’t cater to to the media’s quest at staying in the loop, nor should he.
This thing can go one of two ways. If the Mets don’t like what they saw from Wilson, they’ll likely offer him nothing. If they do like what they saw and feel that he can be ready for Opening Day, or shortly thereafter, they need to realize that a minor league deal simply won’t get it done. Like Wilson, Joakim Soria is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Earlier this offseason, Soria was given a two year deal by the Rangers for $8 million, with a club option for 2015. If Soria got two years guaranteed, a healthy or soon to be healthy Brian Wilson should command a major league deal for similar dollars.
There has been talk about Frank Francisco being under contract, and how that might affect the Mets’ thinking as it pertains to Wilson. To be blunt, Frank Francisco was dreadful last year. Adam Rubin has stated over and over that since Francisco is making $6 million, he’s the closer (even without Wilson on board). I think that line of thinking is absurd (whether or not it’s coming from Rubin, the Mets, or anyone else). This is a pitcher who had a 1.60 WHIP last year, to go along with a 5.53 ERA and 10 hits allowed per 9. The fact that he’s making $6 million should have no bearing on whether or not he’s allowed to close games. The money is spent whether Francisco closes, appears in the middle innings, or is released. It makes no sense to allow Francisco (who is also coming off elbow surgery) to set fire to save situations simply because he’s owed a moderate amount of money in 2013.
To circle back to Wilson, this is a move the Mets should make if they like what they saw during Saturday’s workout. If he’s interested in signing with the Mets, and they feel that the price is right, having Frank Francisco on the team should have no bearing on whether Wilson is offered a chance to close in Queens.
After stellar campaigns in both 2009 and 2010, Wilson came back to Earth a bit in 2011, and missed nearly all of last season after undergoing surgery. He’ll be 31 years old at the start of the 2013 season, so he should still have plenty left in the tank. I’d offer him the same dollars the Rangers offered Soria ($4 million), add in some incentives, and make the second year a vesting option.
Some would say that since the Mets aren’t expected to contend in 2013, going after Wilson would be pointless. I disagree with that line of thinking. First of all, while unlikely, I wouldn’t write off the 2013 season (especially before we see the final makeup of the roster). Secondly, even if the Mets don’t contend in 2013, having a healthy Brian Wilson on board for next season would be a nice step toward solidifying their chances of contention in 2014. This front office hasn’t been very creative, but bringing Wilson aboard with an eye toward 2014 would classify as both a creative and worthy gamble.