The Yankees have made a few offseason moves so far, but they still need pitching help. Earlier in the month Brian Cashman acknowledged that he was looking for both starters and relievers. The Yankees may have Aroldis Chapman now, but the bullpen could use further strengthening. Aside from the free agent options that we have been going through over the past month, the Yankees could make improvements via trade. According to George A. King III, the Yankees have talked to the Tigers about Justin Wilson. Could a reunion be in order?
Wilson first joined the team back in November of 2014 when the Yankees flipped Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates. The lefty quickly became the Yankees’ best reliever who wasn’t named Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller. He posted a 3.10 ERA through 61 innings with 9.74 K/9, and he was worth 1.5 fWAR. By all accounts, Wilson had a successful season with the team, which is why it came as somewhat of a surprise when the Yankees announced that they had traded him to the Tigers last December.
At the time, it seemed strange to trade away a decent bullpen guy, but the move made more sense after the Yankees traded for Chapman a few weeks later. Wilson ended up having a solid first half of the season (3.51 ERA), then fell off a bit towards the end of the year when he reportedly experienced a dip in velocity and started to struggle with his location. He also dealt with elbow soreness throughout the year. Still, he kept his strikeouts up, and walked fewer batters than he did in 2015. The trade seems to have worked out fine for both parties, since Chad Green and Luis Cessa will both be competing for spots in the Yankees’ rotation next year.
It wouldn’t hurt to add another arm to the ‘pen, especially a lefty. Aside from Chapman, the Yankees’ only lefties right now are Tommy Layne, Chasen Shreve, and Richard Bleier. Wilson could be a good fit, but it doesn’t sound like he will be returning to the Yankees anytime soon. Although the Tigers are said to be looking to drop payroll (including the projected $2.5 million that Wilson could make in 2017) to get under the luxury tax threshold, King reported that the Yankees found the Tigers’ asking price for Wilson to be too high. The Tigers are rumored to want “controllable major league arms” in exchange for Wilson, and the Yankees don’t exactly have a surplus of pitchers at the moment.
Would you be interested in seeing the Yankees bring back Justin Wilson?