Mets offseason target: Left-handed reliever Justin Wilson

By Richard Heaton
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 12: Justin Wilson
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 12: Justin Wilson /

Last July, the Detroit Tigers traded their closer Justin Wilson to the Chicago Cubs. Now it may be the Mets’ turn to bring in the left-handed pitcher.

Like A.J. Ramos, who the Mets traded for last July, Wilson still has a year of arbitration left and could boost the Mets bullpen. Why would the Cubs be willing to trade him? Well, it seems that Chicago might be more willing than usual as manager Joe Maddon can’t seem to trust Wilson.

Just before the start of the NLCS against the Dodgers, the Cubs re-assigned Wilson in favor of Hector Rondon and left the former off the championship series roster. This was after Wilson posted a 5.09 ERA for the Cubs over 23 games.

Before being traded, however, he was solid with the Tigers. He was Francisco Rodriguez’s replacement and pitched to a 2.68 ERA over 42 games.

His time as a member of the Cubs wasn’t all bad. Despite his 5.09 overall ERA, he pitched to a 1.80 ERA over the final two weeks of the regular season.

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One of Wilsons best abilities in 2017 was striking batters out. In 2015, his K/9 stood at 9.73 and in 2016 it rose a bit to 9.97. Wilson faced a huge jump in 2017 when he struck out a career high 80 batters in just 58 innings.

Only a handful of pitchers with a minimum of 50 Innings Pitched had a K/9 higher than his 12.41 in 2017.

Wilson also had some success in a small sample of games pitched at Citi Field. In five career appearances, Wilson posted a 1.42 ERA, along with a 21.3 K/9 ratio, striking out 15 of the 22 batters he’s faced.

The only aspect of Wilson’s game that might worry the Mets is that his walk rate is also on the rise. With the Cubs, Wilson issued 19 walks in 17 2/3 innings. If he can work more on his control, he would be a dominant force along with Jeurys Familia and Ramos.

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Wilson made just under $3 million last season. The Cubs acquired him for fairly cheap. This means that if the Mets can work something out, Wilson could be a very affordable and effective addition.