With the New York Yankees reportedly in the market for a lefty reliever and the Detroit Tigers rumored to be shopping Justin Wilson, could New York bring back their former setup man?
With the Detroit Tigers looking to cut payroll this winter, one name that has come up multiple times in trade rumors during the Winter Meetings is former Yankees reliever Justin Wilson, who was traded to Detroit last winter in exchange for young starting pitchers Luis Cessa and Chad Green.
MLB Trade Rumors projects Wilson to earn $2.7 million during his penultimate year of arbitration, so while he’s not especially cost prohibitive, Detroit does appear to have less expensive options in house to replace him.
The Yankees have been connected to free agent lefties Boone Logan, Mike Dunn, and Jerry Blevins in recent weeks, but Wilson is younger, cheaper, and arguably much better than any of that trio, so it might make sense for them to at least check Wilson’s price tag.
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Recently the Tigers have been discussing a potential deal with the Chicago Cubs according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, but it’s not clear whether anything is imminent with those talks. Presumably New York still has time to swoop in with an offer if they’re so inclined.
Unfortunately, the Yankees might find the asking price higher than they’d like because of the short supply of quality pitching this winter. George A. King III of the New York Post cites a source “with knowledge of the situation” who suggests the Tigers are looking for “controllable major league arms” in exchange for Wilson, which is shouldn’t be surprising, because it’s what they gave up last winter to acquire him.
Under no circumstances should New York deal from their starting pitching depth to land a reliever, but they do have a plethora of MLB-ready relievers in the upper minors like Johnny Barbato, Giovanny Gallegos, Jonathan Holder, and Ben Heller they could dangle.
While his 4.14 ERA in 58.2 IP last year doesn’t inspire confidence, Wilson posted strong strikeout (26.6%) and walk rates (6.8%- a career best) last season, and seemed to be the victim of some homer-related bad luck. His 3.18 FIP was not that far off from the 2.69 mark he put up the year before with the Yanks, when he put up a 3.10 ERA over 61 IP during his lone season in pinstripes.