Brian Wilson will return to the Los Angeles Dodgers, sources said Thursday.
The bearded reliever agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract for 2014, with a player option for 2015 that would be worth between $9 million and $10 million, depending on 2014 appearances.
The reliever market gained momentum late Monday night, when the Oakland A’s acquired closer Jim Johnson from the Baltimore Orioles. By Tuesday morning, the Detroit Tigers had reached a two-year agreement with free agent Joe Nathan, and then the Dodgers and Wilson came to terms Thursday morning.
A career-long San Francisco Giant until the Dodgers signed him as a free agent in mid-summer, Wilson made 18 late-season appearances and posted a 0.66 ERA for the Dodgers, then pitched six scoreless innings in the postseason. He served primarily in set-up for closer Kenley Jansen, and presumably would return to the closer role if Jansen were to falter.
Wilson, who will be 32 in March, underwent Tommy John surgery – his second – early in the 2012 season and has thrown only 15 2/3 innings, plus the postseason, over two seasons. He was effective upon his return, with both his command and velocity improving with each appearance.
The Dodgers' bullpen was at times mediocre, particularly in the late innings leading to Jansen, often left to Ronald Belisario and Brandon League. Wilson, for four years with the Giants among the better closers in the game, was exceptional in those situations.
The agreement with Wilson comes a week after the club signed veteran starter Dan Haren for one year at $10 million with a vesting option for 2015. The Dodgers still need to sort out the left side of their infield. They will add a third baseman and leave Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, or add a shortstop and move Ramirez to third. They may be players on Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, assuming a new posting agreement is reached and he becomes available. They do expect Alexander Guerrero, the Cuban signed to a four-year, $28-million contract in October, to cover second base. Though a hamstring strain has limited him, Guerrero is 6 for 14 playing in the Dominican winter league.
The more pressing issues would seem to be contract extensions for Clayton Kershaw and Ramirez, both of whom could be free agents after the 2014 season.