Brian Wilson was the most noteworthy name among those who were non-tendered last night. There’s still a chance he could return to the Giants at a discounted rate, but Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle hears that his tenure in San Francisco is almost certainly over.
The Giants technically can negotiate a lower-priced, incentive-rich deal with Wilson now that he is a free agent, but multiple sources said the 30-year-old right-hander is upset about the Giants’ stance and has told people he will sign elsewhere.
Wilson made an $8.5 million salary this past season and the Giants weren’t willing to offer him the minimum guarantee of $6.8 million through arbitration coming off his second Tommy John surgery. While Wilson apparently took issue with that, it was an understandable decision from a business perspective, as the Giants’ bullpen is already pretty expensive and $6.8 million is a lot to guarantee to a reliever, especially one who is still rehabbing from surgery.
Wilson figures to land a deal similar in structure to Ryan Madson’s one-year contract with the Angels, which includes a $3.5 million base salary and $3.5 million in possible incentives based on days spent on the roster and games finished. The Dodgers and Red Sox have been mentioned as two possible landing spots.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.