In each of the past three years, Brewers general manager David Stearns has added a bullpen piece in the final week of spring training after seeing them cut loose by a different team. It looks like he might be making it four years in a row.
According to Robert Murray and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Brewers have an agreement to sign veteran right-hander Alex Wilson.
#Brewers in agreement with free-agent reliever Alex Wilson, pending physical, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) March 22, 2019
#Brewers’ agreement with free-agent reliever Alex Wilson is a major-league deal, source tells The Athletic. Wilson is taking his physical today.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) March 22, 2019
The 32-year-old Wilson has spent the past four seasons with the Detroit Tigers after starting his career in Boston, and had been in camp with Cleveland this spring, allowing just 2 runs in 8.1 innings while striking out 7 and walking 2. He opted out of his minor league contract on Wednesday when he was told he would not be making Cleveland’s Opening Day roster, becoming a free agent.
Wilson put up a 3.36 ERA and 131 ERA+ in 61.2 innings over 59 appearances for the Tigers last season, finishing 13 games. He doesn’t strike out many batters — he only has a career K/9 of 6.0 and K% of 16.3% — but has still managed a career ERA+ of 132. He’s pretty routinely beat his FIP, but pitching in Comerica Park may have something to do with that.
He’s almost exclusively a fastball pitcher, although he throws two types — a sinker and a cutter. Both have been effective for him despite the lack of blow-away stuff, especially the cutter, which graded out as 9.6 runs above average last season.
With everyone else in the Brewers bullpen likely having to “move back” an inning or two in the absence of Jeffress and Knebel, the Brewers were likely looking for someone to fill that mid-inning relief role to bridge the gap between a 5-inning start and the back end of the bullpen.
Even if Junior Guerra can fill a multi-inning role with Josh Hader moving to the end of games, he can’t pitch every day. Wilson should help cover some of those innings, at least in April while the Brewers wait for Jeffress to return and Josh Fields to get his arm into game shape.
Jon Heyman has the contract details — Wilson gets at least $750,000, which is less than the $1.5 million he would have earned had he made the Cleveland major league roster, but more than he would have as a minor leaguer.
Alex Wilson gets 750K base, more in incentives on MLB deal with brewers @ByRobertMurray 1st— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 22, 2019
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs