The Dodgers officially announced a one-year, major-league contract with free agent right-hander Brian Wilson this afternoon. The former Giants closer will report to the Dodgers’ facility in Glendale, Arizona to begin his comeback from Tommy John surgery.
“The one thing we’ve talked about is that power quality arm on the back end,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “This is another guy that gives us that, we think, (who can) get the ball to Kenley [Jansen]. It’s one of the areas we felt could still help us.”
In his prime Wilson was a three-time All-Star (2008, 2009, 2011) and saved a major-league high 163 games from 2008-11. He saved six games in seven tries during the 2010 postseason, and was on the mound when the Giants clinched their 2010 World Series victory. He pitched only two games in April 2011 before having the season-ending surgery.
Wilson raised eyebrows around baseball for his intense attitude, replete with painted nails and a bushy jet-black beard.
“He’s a good player, good teammate,” recalled Juan Uribe, who played with Wilson in 2009 and 2010. “I liked the guy.”
Wilson had been hoping to latch on with a major-league team earlier in the season, but he got no offers after trying out for the New York Mets in January. He threw again twice last week with representatives from several teams in attendance, and apparently the Dodgers came away impressed.
“He got loose easy, threw the ball where he wanted, came out clean,” Mattingly said. “They were happy with his location, throwing the ball where he wanted to.”
However, Mattingly added, there’s no timetable for Wilson to join the Dodgers. After his time in Arizona, Wilson’s next step would likely be to pitch in some minor-league rehabilitation games. According to one report, his first stop would be with the Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
The 31-year-old is 20-20 with 171 saves in 315 career games, all with the Giants, from 2006-12. The New Hampshire native has limited opposing hitters to a .238 batting average during the course of his career, with 340 strikeouts in 320 innings. In the second half, he’s posted a 2.69 ERA in 149 career appearances.
Wilson also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2003, following his junior season at Louisiana State University.
Mattingly said that Wilson won’t have to shave his beard when he joins the Dodgers.
“We’ve got a few characters in there so I’m thinking he’s going to fit right in,” Mattingly said.
The Dodgers have 39 players on their 40-man roster with less than 24 hours remaining before baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Adding Wilson reduces the Dodgers’ need to add a reliever, if it doesn’t outright eliminate it.