The Giants continue to negotiate with free agents Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan, who seem to be in no hurry to sign in a slow-moving market. Something could happen ahead of next week’s winter meetings in Nashville, or even at the meetings.
However, the calendar provides a more pressing issue for the Giants and one of their iconic players, 2010 World Series hero Brian Wilson, and in the worst case Wilson’s days with his only professional organization could be over by Friday.
From what I hear, Wilson and the team are not exactly seeing eye to eye.
Friday is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to all unsigned players. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, any contract offer must be at least 80 percent of what a player made the year before. Wilson earned $8.5 million, so any offer for 2013 would have to be at least $6.8 million.
From everything I’ve heard, the Giants do not intend to offer Wilson a $6.8 million guarantee after he missed the 2012 season (save for two games in April) with an elbow injury that required his second Tommy John surgery. Wilson has done a lot for the organization, particularly his shutdown work in the 2010 regular season and postseason. He’s made them a lot of money in beard merchandising, too. But the Giants believe that’s a lot of money for a pitcher whose future is so clouded by health.
Wilson does not see his future as cloudy. He boasted during the World Series that he plans to be ready to pitch, for the Giants on Opening Day. Also, I was told today that Wilson has had no setbacks in his rehabilitation and continues to work out under the Giants’ supervision.
Here is where it gets sticky.
If the Giants do not tender Wilson a contract by Friday he becomes a free agent. Again, that seems likely to happen. The Giants still could sign Wilson and want to sign Wilson, I’m told. At that point the 80 percent rule does not apply anymore. The Giants even are willing to give Wilson a major-league contract, but at a low base salary — several million dollars below $6.8 million — with incentives that would pay him a much bigger check if he is able to pitch.
But I’ve been told Wilson is not keen on that idea, partly because he has given so much to the organization, including the health of his arm in the pursuit of a championship, and feels he should be paid accordingly. That’s completely understandable.
As a free agent, Wilson could test the market and end his 10-year association with the Giants by signing elsewhere. But if the Giants truly are willing to give Wilson a big-league contract offer, that might be the only one he gets.
Might another team swoop in and give Wilson that guarantee? In past years I’d have said no chance, but this year seems different. Teams are flush with cash, the market for relievers is not exactly strong and some team itching to spend might take the risk based on Wilson’s excellence when he was healthy.
There is a precedent this offseason.
The Chicago Cubs signed former Twins starter Scott Baker to a one-year, $5.5 million contract after he missed all of 2012 after Tommy John surgery in April, the same month as Wilson’s operation. Baker is six months older than Wilson. The big difference is that Baker underwent his first Tommy John, not his second.
As you can see, the Giants and Wilson have much to discuss between now and Friday.