Yankees reportedly chasing Justin Wilson despite high cost


This story has been updated to reflect new information regarding Justin Wilson’s talks with the Yankees.

We’ve known for weeks, since the Darren O’ Day signing, that the Yankees were still intent on adding another reliever for the middle innings.

Of course, it was bound to be a one-year deal at a similar cost; O’Day will make nearly $2.5 million in 2021, giving the Yankees only ~$10 million total wiggle room.

And that’s not $10 million to play with this offseason, worry free.

That’s $10 million for in-season adjustments, trade deadline acquisitions, a reliever, and a potential fifth outfielder, which may or may not be Jay Bruce.

Seeing as the team remains completely unwilling to pass the $210 million luxury tax threshold, every dollar is at a premium. That makes Ben Heller’s slightly costly release this week all the more strange, followed by every single tidbit in the latest Ken Rosenthal column.

Rosenthal’s latest column for The Athletic, published following the Bruce move, still posits that the Yankees and Brett Gardner will end up reuniting, despite the current discrepancy between both parties’ evaluations of the 37-year-old.

That’s unexpected enough, considering Gardner’s likely cost. But even more bizarre? Rosenthal became the first to connect the Yankees and lefty reliever Justin Wilson, probably the top southpaw reliever on the market, and someone you’d think would soak up too much budget to be viable.

UPDATE: FanSided’s Robert Murray reports the Yankees are in “serious talks” with Wilson.

Wilson, still just 33, was reportedly choosing between finalists at the tail end of this week, with the Mets “atop” the rumored list.

Apparently, the Yankees are still in on a reunion with the lefty, who spent 2015 setting up Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in the Bronx.

He’d be a catch (especially as the fifth-most-important in the pecking order), but his projected cost has long been about $5 million annually on a multi-year deal. Would the Yankees really go that high with a de facto salary cap in place?

Gardner’s case is even more curious. Projecting the part-time outfielder at $1.5 or $2 million is all fun and games until you recall he checked in on a one-year, $12.5 million deal last offseason — before money was an object for the cash-poor Steinbrenners. Would he really be willing to accept a discounted rate below, say, Eddie Rosario and Joc Pederson after outperforming them last year? He’s quite prideful.

And yet Rosenthal equates Gardner’s deal to the Dodgers-Justin Turner talks, assuming both get done in due time. Color us surprised.

Wilson’s most recent “full” season consisted of 45 games in 2019, in which he struck out 44 men in 39 innings to the tune of a 2.54 ERA.

We’d be down to welcome him back to the pinstripes, but are the Yankees really in the pool if the rumored cost is accurate? That seems hard to believe.

Either this is a discount, Gardner’s an extreme discount, or neither is happening.