On Tuesday, we learned that the Dodgers and Brian Wilson agreed on a Major League contract. The former Giants closer is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, required after succumbing to injury in his second appearance of the 2012 season. Current Giants closer Sergio Romo, normally solid, had a horrendous July, posting a 5.63 ERA in nine appearances — and it continued last night as he magically escaped a bases loaded, no out jam against the Phillies unscathed. The Giants were one of several teams interested in obtaining Wilson’s services over the final two months of the season, but backed off after internal discussions.
Via CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly:
Upper management recognized the value that Wilson had both as an attraction and an endearing figure in franchise history. Others in the organization were put off by Wilson’s antics and the fact he showed up all of the sudden down the stretch, cavorting around the dugout just when all the national cameras showed up.
But ultimately, CEO Larry Baer told Sabean to make a baseball decision. And part of a baseball decision is making sure you have a healthy and cohesive clubhouse.
Wilson’s antics are harmless when the team is winning because everyone is happy. When the team is losing, as the Giants are, Wilson’s antics can become irritating and distracting. The Phillies are another great example of this, as GM Ruben Amaro scolded Cliff Lee for pranking his teammates when they participated in live in-game interviews. Lee has always been known to do that, and it was acceptable behavior because the team was a perennial powerhouse in the league. Now that they are a sub-.500 club, the jokes don’t seem as funny.
The Dodgers are a great landing spot for Wilson. They’re in first place, have had a ton of media attention on a handful of players (particularly Yasiel Puig), and have a legitimate need for another reliable arm in the bullpen. Can’t blame the Giants for passing on him, and you can’t blame the Dodgers for snapping him up.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.
The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.
Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.