Cubs may have moved on from lefty reliever Justin Wilson
A report surfaced earlier this week that indicated the Cubs had interest in Tigers’ reliever LHP Justin Wilson. Jon Paul Morosi said the Cubs had contacted the Tigers about Wilson and showed some interest in trading for the southpaw reliever. Morosi indicated at the time it was unclear if the talks were ongoing.
According to Bob Nightengale, the talks stalled between the Cubs and Tigers over Justin Wilson. The two teams could not find a match “and both sides appear to have moved on.”
The Tigers would reportedly like to trade Justin Wilson this off-season. Wilson has two years of team control left before he becomes a free agent. Wilson is arbitration eligible for the second time.
Last season in his first year with the Tigers, Wilson was 4-5 with one save, a 4.14 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 3.18 FIP. Wilson gave up 29 runs, 27 earned, on 61 hits with 17 walks and 65 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings. The Tigers traded Luis Cessa and Chad Green to the Yankees for Wilson last December (Dec. 9, 2015).
The Yankees acquired Wilson from the Pirates for Francisco Cervelli in November 2014 (Nov. 12). Wilson had a better year with the Yankees in 2015 than he did this past season with the Tigers. Wilson was 5-0 with a 3.10 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 2.69 FIP in 74 games for Joe Girardi.
Wilson broke in with the Pirates and was 9-5 with a 2.99 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 3.45 FIP in 136 games over his first three seasons in the big leagues.
Wilson is a reverse splits guy. Wilson limited right-handed hitters to a .234/.299/.369 line with a .667 OPS last season while left-handers hit .308/.344/.429 with a .772 OPS. For his career, Justin Wilson has allowed a .618 OPS to right-handers and a .661 OPS to left-handers.
The front office is exploring ways to address the pitching staff, both starters and relievers. The Cubs have added four relievers from outside the organization in LHP Brian Duensing, RHP Wade Davis, LHP Caleb Smith and RHP Koji Uehara. The Cubs are pursuing Tyson Ross and remain in contact with the free agent right-handed starter.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said publicly the Cubs must address the pitching depth this off-season and would continue to look for starters and relievers for the big league roster and upper levels of the minor league system.
With the reliever market picking up, free agent pitchers, such as RHP Brad Ziegler, LHP Jerry Blevins and RHP Daniel Hudson may soon be off the board.
Even if the Cubs are unable to add relievers to the big league roster before February, on paper Joe Maddon will begin Spring Training with a stronger bullpen than he had a year ago.
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