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October 16, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Brian Wilson (00) during game five of the National League Championship Series baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Is Brian Wilson an Option for Closer?

Indians to Inquire about Brian Wilson and Fernando Rodney

One of the more pressing areas of need for the Indians this offseason is filling the role of closer. Following the release of Chris Perez, the back end of the Tribe’s bullpen has been left vacant. Any number of internal candidates have been mentioned as possible replacements, but what about external candidates? If you believe the latest rumors in the baseball blogosphere, then it’s possible we could be watching one of either two high profile closers in 2014 – Brian Wilson and Fernando Rodney.

Let’s get weird.

brian wilson

October 14, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Brian Wilson (00) pitches the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the National League Championship Series baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report on MLB Trade Rumors, Chris Antonetti is set to meet with agent Dan Lozano to discuss the possibility of bringing one of his clients into the mix in 2014. Both are intriguing options, but one has to wonder how serious the inquiry really is. Is it legitimate interest on the part of the Indians or simply doing their due diligence?

Brian Wilson is an interesting option to say the least. The former Giants closer returned to action this past season following his second Tommy John surgery, albeit in a limites role for the Dodgers. He was impressive none the less. While his fastball had lost a few miles per hour, Wilson was still able to shut opposing hitters down. He posted a 0.66 ERA, 0.878 WHIP, and held hitters to a .178 batting average in 13.2 innings of work.

However, despite any lingering concerns about his surgically repaired elbow, Wilson should and most likely will demand a multi-year deal from any team looking to sign him. He is an elite level closer when healthy and his audition with the Dodgers proved that he is. It will be finding that fine line between damaged goods and good health that determines what teams are willing to offer.

One other thing that must be taken into account with Wilson is his extreme personality. With the crazy hair and continuously growing beard, he has become a bit of a sideshow. Would the Indians be willing to put up with his hijinx? I would think so. Despite the outlandishness, Wilson has never displayed anything other than being a good teammate with a tremendous work ethic. He would probably compliment nicely the environment built by Nick Swisher last year.

fernando rodney or brian wilsin?

Aug 28, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Fernando Rodney (56) throws a pitch during the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Los Angeles Angels 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The other potential closing option that could come from Antonetti’s visit with Lozano could be Fernando Rodney. Over the past two seasons as Tampa’s closer, he has recorded 85 saves and been super reliable for the most part. Yes, Rodney was subject to the occasional highwire act and posted a 3.38 ERA in 2013, but he has built a solid reputation as one of the best closers in baseball.

That’s where the argument for Rodney falls apart. He is likely headed for a big payday thanks to those 85 saves and will most likely be priced out of the Indians comforzone. He is also 36 years old so the idea of giving big money and multiple years for his services is probably a classic trap situation. The Indians could probably get the same level of production out of someone younger and cheaper with far less risk attached.

In summation, the likelihood of the Indians signing either Brian Wilson or Fernando Rodney seems unlikely. If I had to guess, Wilson would be the more likely of the two given his recent injury history, but even he should be able to command a salary that doesn’t fit within the Indians model for structuring the roster. So the verdict on this one is that Chris Antonetti’s meeting is probably nothing more than due diligence.

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Tags: Brian Wilson Cleveland Indians Fernando Rodney Free Agents

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