SAN FRANCISCO -- The Brian Wilson saga is likely nearing its final chapter.
During an event in New York on Saturday, Giants general manager Brian Sabean told the New York Post that he does not anticipate Brian Wilson returning to the Giants this season. The Giants non-tendered Wilson in November, making the three-time All-Star closer a free agent.
"I'm going to be brutally honest as I always am, I don't (think Wilson will return)," Sabean said. "In this case, where you are getting a second Tommy John ... it's the type of rehab where he's still not further up along to judge exactly where he may be able to come back in major league fashion, let alone as a closer."
Wilson, who ranks third in franchise history with 171 saves, made just two appearances last April before having reconstructive elbow surgery for the second time. He began his throwing program on Oct. 19, the day of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, and maintained he'd be ready to return to his role as closer in 2013.
"I'm going to be me opening day," Wilson said at the time.
The Giants have taken a more cautious approach, and many within the organization don't believe Wilson will be ready at the beginning of the upcoming season. Sabean had hoped to sign Wilson to a one-year deal with a low base salary and incentives that could bring Wilson closer to the $6.8 million that he would have been guaranteed had the Giants tendered him a contract. But Wilson, a star on and off the field during his seven seasons with the Giants, wasn't enthralled by the offer and has tested the market. "It's one of those things where it's very difficult trying to change somebody's mind, being (Wilson's), in that the organization owes him, and we do owe him a debt of gratitude," Sabean told the Post, "(But) this is a tough business, and we have to be financially responsible."
Sabean said the Giants may still have the flexibility to bring Wilson back on an incentive-laden deal, but he believes Wilson would prefer to head elsewhere if such a deal is the best he can do. Manager Bruce Bochy said earlier he was prepared to head into the 2013 season with Sergio Romo as the closer and several other relievers providing occasional support.
"You look at the job they did last year, and they certainly have earned the right to go into the year being our guys," Bochy said of the bullpen group that helped clinch a second World Series in three seasons. ___