Commentary

C.J. Wilson a good FA buy

The converted reliever should have plenty left in the tank for his next contract

Updated: September 2, 2011, 9:11 AM ET
By Dave Cameron | FanGraphs
C.J. WilsonRick Yeatts/Getty Images C.J. Wilson's lack of a track record is actually a good reason to pursue him this winter.

If you want to waste a lot of money in a hurry, sign a high-profile free-agent starting pitcher. This is one of the great truths of baseball. Whether it's A.J. Burnett, John Lackey or Barry Zito, it's not hard to look around baseball and find a team whose big mound investment has turned into a frustrating drain on the payroll. And those are the ones who have been lucky enough to stay healthy. Adding in the pitchers whose arms gave out not long after receiving a big paycheck in free agency would make for a depressing list indeed.

Because of the rules governing how long it takes to reach free agency -- and the wise trend by smart franchises to lock up their young aces before they ever reach the market -- the available pool of free-agent starting pitchers is usually dominated by guys who are headed straight toward the downside of their careers. By the time a pitcher has satisfied the six-year service time minimum and been granted the rights to free agency, he's already put a lot of mileage on his arm, and in most circumstances, his best days are behind him.

That's what makes C.J. Wilson such an appealing free agent, and the free-agent pitcher who should be most attractive to big-league clubs this winter.


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