Brewers make bullpen addition, but it shouldn't impact their pursuit of Craig Kimbrel

On Sunday, the Milwaukee Brewers signed free-agent reliever Alex Wilson to a one-year deal.

Wilson, who had previously been in camp with the Cleveland Indians, is coming off an impressive season with the Detroit Tigers. He posted in 2018 a 131 ERA+ and a 2.87 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 61 innings behind a groundball-heavy approach. According to Statcast, Wilson upped his slider usage while reducing employment of his four-seam fastball.

Because the Brewers have been connected to Craig Kimbrel in recent days, it's worth wondering how signing Wilson might impact that rumored interest. The short answer is, probably not at all.

Even with Wilson in tow, the Brewers are dealing with a banged-up bullpen. Closer Corey Knebel is a candidate for Tommy John surgery due to recently discovered UCL damage, and setup man Jeremy Jeffress seems likely to miss Opening Day because of shoulder woes.

The Brewers, then, could probably use another experienced late-inning arm -- especially a higher-quality one than Wilson, who fits in better as a middle reliever. Kimbrel, literally the all-time leader in saves through an age-30 season, would qualify. Kimbrel has posted a 184 ERA+ and has struck out 15 batters per nine over the past three years; Wilson, nor most relievers, can compare: He has a 123 ERA+ and has fanned six batters per nine since 2016.

Besides, the Brewers can employ both Wilson and Kimbrel if they so choose. Milwaukee could make space in its bullpen by optioning Taylor Williams, Alex Claudio, or Chase Anderson -- none of them would need to be exposed to waivers. Whether or not Knebel requires Tommy John surgery, he's likely to require a stay on the 60-day injured list, thereby opening up a 40-man roster spot.

Obviously none of this means the Brewers will sign Kimbrel. It does mean, however, that the Wilson deal shouldn't be accepted as a sign that Milwaukee is done shopping just yet.

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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