And Justin Wilson Makes Three

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

The Tigers went into the offseason needing to revamp their bullpen. They traded for K-Rod, signed Mark Lowe, and, today, picked up lefty flamethrower Justin Wilson from the Yankees. Going the other way were Luis Cessa and Chad Green, both minor league relievers. The 28-year old has 199.1 career major league innings in relief with an 82 ERA- and 85 FIP-. He’s also coming off his best season.

Wilson is basically all fastballs and cutters, but he sits 95 from the left side and has enough command to for the stuff to work. Additionally, while 200 innings worth of data isn’t enough of a sample to be sure, he’s displayed no serious platoon split in his time in the show, meaning he’s probably capable of getting big outs against righties late in games.

Wilson is arbitration eligible for the first time this winter, so that means the Tigers will have him for three pretty reasonably priced years. Cessa and Green are both good enough to make the majors, but they’re probably third-tier relievers or worse in most scenarios. The Tigers gave up two guys who might be solid arms in two or three years for a guy who should be very good for the next couple of years.

There’s not a lot to say about the deal other than that it looks like a good one. I’ll dive in on Wilson as a pitcher later in the offseason, as I did with Zimmermann, but from a transaction standpoint, Avila had a good night.

Take a step back and appreciate what Avila has done. They traded Betancourt, Cessa, and Green and spent less than $40 million over three years to acquire two years of K-Rod, two years of Lowe, and three years of Wilson. None of those guys are the best in the business at their respective reliever tier, but that’s a very impressive haul for the price. The club added three really solid relief pitchers without subtracting any 2016 talent or important future pieces, and it only increased payroll by like $12 million a year on average.

Avila got his front-end arm, his back end starter, three relievers, a backup catcher, and a 3/4 OF. They could use a good bench bat in addition to a top flight outfielder, but the key is that they’ve made all these additions without depleting the farm or signing any crazy contracts. They’re prepared to compete in 2016 without hurting themselves in any future years.

Avila hasn’t quite made the Tigers the 2016 AL Central front runners, but he’s certainly had himself a nice opening month in his first offseason at the helm.


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