PHILADELPHIA – Even as Brian Wilson agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Dodgers with a contract on Tuesday, Giants CEO Larry Baer said he hasn’t closed the door on the former All-Star closer returning to San Francisco in the future.
[RELATED: Report -- Brian Wilson to sign with Dodgers]
“The organization has a lot of regard and admiration for Brian,” said Baer, reached on his cell phone. “He was on the mound when we won our first championship. Nobody forgets that. Nobody will forget that, and we thank him for that.
“It doesn’t mean he’ll never be a Giant again. People go and come back.”
Wilson is coming back from Tommy John surgery, the second of his career, and hasn’t thrown a pitch in a major league game since April 12, 2012, at Colorado. He became a free agent when the Giants declined to tender him a contract, which would guarantee him a minimum salary of $6.8 million.
Wilson had offers from three clubs and the Giants were believed to be among them. Wilson even arranged a private showcase with pitching coach Dave Righetti and bullpen catcher Bill Hayes at USF last week.
But Wilson is a spotlight seeker by nature – and he’s especially drawn to the exposure now that he’s auditioning for a firmer contract this offseason. So it didn’t help the Giants’ appeal when they faded from contention.
Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, who first confirmed the deal with the Dodgers, reported that Wilson would go to the club’s complex in Arizona and then report to their Single-A affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga. He could be in a Dodgers uniform in two weeks in a setup role, although those who attended Wilson’s throwing sessions at USF, and later, his showcase in Los Angeles, described him as close to major league ready.
As Baer was quick to point out, it’s not the first time a popular Giant has decided to join the Dodgers. But recent defectors Jason Schmidt and Juan Uribe never had the high-wattage following of Wilson, who became a black-bearded folk hero in the World Series season of 2010 with his odd interviews and even odder facial hair.
You might have to go back to 1975, when Juan Marichal finished his career with the Dodgers, to find such a sizable figure changing sides in the rivalry between these two clubs.
Baer said GM Brian Sabean had permission to go after Wilson, and that in retrospect, nothing different could have been done after last season.
“He worked out for us, and we had interest, if they thought it was the right move for the organization,” Baer said. “Sadly, he hasn’t pitched anywhere for a year and half. He was under contract when he got hurt. We wish there was another way.
“It’s sort of the sad reality of sports. When injuries happen, things change.”