Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area reported on Thursday that the San Francisco Giants were in deep discussions to sign reliever Brandon Lyon. However, negotiations were put on hold for a week as the club prepared to exchange salary figures with its arbitration eligible players on Friday. Steve Berman of the website Bay Area Sports Guy first reported that the Giants had interest in Lyon.
Giants vice president Bobby Evans cautioned that a deal with Lyon is not assured of happening, and that his signing would not necessarily preclude the team from re-signing free agent reliever Brian Wilson. Evans told Baggarly in regards to Lyon, “I can’t assure you this is something that will get done or not.”
In regards to what signing Lyon would mean for Wilson he said, “there are only so many spots that can be filled.”
Lyon, 33, is coming off the best season of his career for the Astros and Blue Jays, who acquired him at the trading deadline. In 61 innings he allowed 56 hits, 20 walks, five home runs and three hit batsmen. He struck out a career-high 63 hitters, good for a 24.4 percent strikeout rate which is well above his career rate of 15.8 percent.
Lyon uses a six-pitch mix that includes a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a cutter, a slider, a curve and a changeup. The cutter, which averages around 89 MPH, was his most frequently used pitch last season according to the PITCHf/x data available on FanGraphs. It was also his second most effective pitch behind the curve. His fastball only averages around 90 MPH.
His light fastball velocity and six-pitch arsenal resembles that of a starter more than a late-inning reliever. His ability to mix different pitches could be the reason that he didn’t show much of a platoon split last season. Lefties had a .665 OPS against him compared to .659 for righties.
Lyon signed a three-year, $15 million with the Astros prior to 2010. He put up a 3.12 ERA in 2010 and a 3.10 ERA last season. However, he was blasted for an 11.48 ERA over 15 appearances in 2011 before undergoing season-ending surgery on his right biceps and shoulder to repair a torn labrum.
Wilson worked out for the Mets on Saturday, but wasn’t impressive enough to warrant a big league contract offer. A source told Mike Puma of the New York Post that, “Physically, he’s not ready. He’s got a way to go.”
Wilson underwent a second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow after two appearances with the Giants last April. The Giants non-tendered Wilson in November, making him a free agent. Wilson was upset with the team’s decision, but the club was still reportedly willing to offer him a guaranteed major league contract. The Giants non-tendered Wilson because his status for opening day was uncertain and the team would have had to pay him close to the $8.5 million salary he made last season had they tendered him.
If the Giants ultimately do strike a deal for Lyon, it appears Wilson’s tenure in San Francisco will come to a close.