COMMENTARY | Joel Hanrahan couldn't stay healthy and Andrew Bailey simply wasn't good enough. Now the Boston Red Sox have thrust Koji Uehara into the closer role, a position he's only dabbled in during his few years in North America.
So far, the results look promising. His ERA is second only to Clay Buchholz and his WHIP is the best on the team. But at 38 years old, how long can he be expected to keep it up?
Enter Brian Wilson. A three-time All-Star and the 2010 NL Saves champion, Wilson has had tremendous success at the position for the San Francisco Giants. Even if he wasn't tabbed as a closer, at the cost of merely a few dollars he could still help an ailing bullpen that ranks 23rd in MLB in ERA.
Wilson, however, would not come without concerns of his own. He's been a free agent all season and hasn't pitched competitively in almost 15 months after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery.
On the flip side, he would be unlikely to command much and his contract could be incentive-laden. A native of New Hampshire, Wilson grew up a Sox fan and may even consider giving them a "hometown" discount. He already expressed interest in the idea of coming to Boston prior to the season.
In any case, Tommy John surgery isn't the end of the world. John Lackey went through the same procedure just a few months prior to Wilson and is coming off a career-high 12 strikeout performance in his latest outing. As a reliever, Wilson wouldn't even be asked to throw nearly the same amount of innings as Lackey has.
Signing Wilson makes far more sense than bringing back a player like Jonathan Papelbon who has blown four of his last six save opportunities. Papelbon still has a hefty amount left on his contract while being 18 months older than Wilson.
Trading for Papelbon or any player is going to cost assets, something the Red Sox can not afford to give up. Wilson represents a low risk and potentially high reward.
Rebounding from Tommy John surgery to be one of the best closers in the game is already on Brian Wilson's resume. The Red Sox wouldn't even be asking for him to go that far. If he can bring stability to an unstable bullpen, the minor investment will have paid off handsomely.
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