Brian Wilson free agency: Dodgers 'close' to signing reliever

Harry How

He won't close for the Dodgers, but Wilson looks to be making a return to Los Angeles anyway.

The Dodgers already have a closer in Kenley Jansen, but they also have the money to pay a setup man like he's a closer. That's precisely why free agent reliever Brian Wilson continued to negotiate with Los Angeles, and is also likely why, according to Yahoo!'s time Brown, the Dodgers and Wilson are now "getting close" to agreeing on a contract.

A few weeks back, Dodgers' beat writer Dylan Hernandez reported that Wilson would sign with the Dodgers to setup, so long as he was still paid as if he were a closer, since that would be the role -- and paycheck -- he would give up by returning to the organization that plucked him off the scrap heap in 2013. He was phenomenal once he made it to the mound, free of the elbow problems that had plagued his recent past: post-Tommy John Wilson threw 13-2/3 regular season innings with a 0.66 ERA and 13 strikeouts against four walks, then tossed six scoreless frames with eight punch outs and nary a free pass in the postseason.

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From 2008 through 2011, as the Giants' primary closer, Wilson threw 264 innings with an ERA of 3.00, notching 163 saves and nearly 300 strikeouts. He was at his very best from 2009 onward, however, posting a 2.50 ERA in that stretch while striking out 10.2 per nine: that's the pitcher the Dodgers are hoping they re-sign.

Los Angeles had reportedly been in on former Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who was set to make roughly $10 million in his final year of arbitration. Johnson was dealt to the Athletics on Monday night, however, taking one of the Dodgers' options off of the table, and likely accelerating negotiations between Wilson and Los Angeles.

Wilson is unlikely to come cheap, but probably also won't tie the Dodgers down with a long-term deal, since his preference is still likely closing somewhere else, and an opportunity to latch on elsewhere in that role once he's fully reestablished his value is likely what he wants. That's the kind of contract that can work out well for both sides in the long run.

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