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So What Does Brian Get?

December 1, 2011

Edit: Wilson actually has one more year of arbitration after his deal ends. But feel free to read it now and again in a year.

It would be pretty conservative to call the demand for closers viral right now. Heath Bell just put the finishing touches on a 3-year $27M deal with the Marlins which includes a vesting option for 2015. Yep. Joe Nathan recently inked a 2-year $14.75M deal with Rangers at the tender age of 38 after tackling Tommy John surgery, and Jonathan Broxton managed to find a gig in KC as a set-up man for an incentive-driven $5M. Just over two weeks ago, Papelbon signed a massive $50M/4-year contract with the Phillies, who then had to forfeit their first round pick in next year’s draft to the Red Sox for opening their Christmas present a little early. Ha.

But the point isn’t to poke fun at the Phillies or the Marlins for those ludicrous contracts. The point is, is that Brian Wilson is set to become a free agent next year, and if this offseason is a precedent for what’s to come, Wilson will soon find himself hurling coconuts on his private Caribbean beach until Spring Training. Now that may be hyperbole, but the fact of the matter is, is that he’ll be looking at some very attractive pieces of paper next free agency, one of which may not be from the Giants. Or will it?

There is without a doubt, that aside from perhaps Lincecum, no player on the Giants that best represents San Francisco as well as Wilson does. If you disagree, what other city could better embrace a guy that wears a spandex tux to the ESPYS? What? No one. What other ball club could take Wilson’s character, mix it up in a bowl of conservative, keep-to-themselves guys and end up with a sepia cake that screams “delicious”? Not in the East Coast. Not in the Mid-West. Not even anywhere else in California. Nooooooo-body.

And that’s the problem. Wilson is loved in San Francisco. Maybe not as much after all the Chalupas and all, but Brian likes it here, and the Bay Area definitely loves him here (sorry A’s fans). And with that in mind, he might not be back.

Simply speaking, there is no way in hell any reliever should be getting paid $15M a year. Or even $10M for that matter. Mariano Rivera, conceivably the greatest closer to ever play the game, was worth the former perhaps 3 or 4 times in his 17 year career. And guys like Papelbon are getting paid like such? Ridiculous.

I’ll venture to say that Brian Wilson is worth more than the typical closer of his abilities; his marketability and pitching mentality being among those reasons. But he isn’t worth $15M a year. Not $14M. Not $13M. Not even twelve. His greatest season, which he finished with a close of the first World Series championship in 56 years, was worth perhaps $13M, sabermetrically speaking. Last year, he was worth three. And considering we have an emerging Heath Hembree who’ll cost the league minimum, or even Sergio Romo, it doesn’t make sense to dangle $50 million to maintain a minimal improvement in one of our greatest strengths, in an area where $5M/year is usually too much money spent.

With that being said, I too have become attached to Wilson’s flamboyant persona. It pains the economist in me, but I want him back for another 2, 3 years if he can bring himself together. Every great team needs a great closer, and Wilson definitely has shown the ability to be lights-out. But I won’t pay $13M for him when we have bats to pay. Give him free meals in the city for the rest of the year, but don’t give him that. But let the Beard stay; he’s earned his welcome.

Prediction: 2-years/$22 million

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gayfrank permalink
    December 8, 2011 9:11 PM

    Think about the indirect monatary value he has! From media exposure, marketting and revenue, like ichiro has with Seattle, increased fanfare which equal higher tickets sales and merchandise. I think it wouldn’t be farfached that this could add 3-5 mil per year to his value from his extra exposure. At least Scott boras could argue that. And btw Ozzie guillen is a similar eccentric person in MLB. Maybe miami can make a run for giants money as the most unusual group of players in the MLB, with Hanley, lomo, Ozzie, and bell!
    Nice post though ROY!


  2. December 8, 2011 9:36 PM

    Agree that he’s worth more than his pitching abilities, which is why I think he’ll get at least $11-12M from the Giants, but when you have a young potential closer who costs at least $10M less, that’s money that can be better spent on players like Betancourt and Nick Punto. Oh and Carlos Beltran after he ripens in a couple years. Too bad the Marlins got Bell; Miami would have been a pretty good place for Wilson to advertise chalupas.

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