The Tampa Bay Rays reportedly have “expressed legit interest” in Tigers left-handed relief pitcher Justin Wilson, and talks between the two sides have gained some traction, reports Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times).
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) July 17, 2017
However, as Joel Sherman (New York Post) tweeted, while there is interest in the southpaw, the prospect price is currently too high for Tampa Bay at the moment.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 17, 2017
The Rays could use a left-handed upgrade in the bullpen — a need that was highlighted in a tweet from Ken Rosenthal (FOX Sports and MLB Network) revealing that Tampa Bay was in on Sean Doolittle before he, and Ryan Madson, were acquired by the Nationals.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 17, 2017
The 29 year-old southpaw opened the season as the Tigers’ setup man, but he was thrusted into the closer’s role, thanks to a combination of his performance and a terrible showing by closer Francisco Rodriguez.
Since taking over as the closer, Wilson has picked up 10 saves in 11 opportunities, although to be fair he has been dominant all season long regardless of role. Over 35-1/3 innings, Wilson has worked to a 12.7 K/9 which compliments a 35.1% ground-ball rate. What’s more, he’s a flamethrower (a career best 96.1 mph fastball) that’s managed a career high 14.7% whiff rate as well. Wilson’s peripherals — 2.29 ERA/2.89 FIP/3.29 xFIP/2.67 SIERA (2.67) — all support his excellent season, and he could bolster a bullpen composed of five other quality hurlers; Chase Whitley, Erasmo Ramirez, Tommy Hunter, Brad Boxberger and Alex Colome.
In short, Wilson has everything the Rays are looking for: excellent peripherals, a modest $2.7-Million salary this season, and remaining club control through the 2018 season. Can the Rays close the deal is another question that begs to be answered.