Justin Wilson has become a New York kind of guy in recent seasons.
The free-agent reliever, who had previously pitched for the Yankees and Mets, was drawing interest from both clubs in recent days. On Monday the left-hander opted for a return to The Bronx, agreeing to terms with the Yankees, according to an industry source. The contract will become official once the 33-year-old Wilson passes a physical.
Wilson pitched for the Yankees in 2015 — going 5-0 with a 3.10 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 61 innings — before he was traded to the Tigers for Luis Cessa and Chad Green, both of whom still pitch for the team. After three seasons with the Tigers and Cubs, Wilson spent 2019-20 with the Mets as one of the club’s most effective relievers. That included a 3.66 ERA and 1.373 WHIP in 23 appearances for the team last season. Wilson began his career with the Pirates, where Gerrit Cole spent two seasons as a teammate.
The Mets had reached out to Wilson’s camp in recent days about a potential return, as the team looks for bullpen help with Seth Lugo awaiting surgery Tuesday to remove a loose body from his right elbow that will prevent him from throwing for at least six weeks.
After trading Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox last month, the Yankees had bullpen openings and filled one vacancy by signing right-hander Darren O’Day to a two-year contract worth $3.15 million.
Wilson will slot in ahead of closer Aroldis Chapman and another left-hander, Zack Britton, who remains as the Yankees’ primary setup option. Chad Green remains as a right-handed bridge option.
If the Yankees are resolved to remain beneath the $210 million luxury-tax threshold, each acquisition lessens the chance Brett Gardner will return. The 37-year-old Gardner, who has spent his entire career with the Yankees, has indicated a desire to return, but with the team’s payroll at about $201 million for luxury-tax purposes, it could be a tight fit.
Over the weekend the Yankees signed Jay Bruce, a lefty-swinging outfielder like Gardner, to a minor league contract.
The Yankees’ biggest expenditure this winter was the six-year contract worth $90 million that DJ LeMahieu received.