With his oversized beard, tattoo-covered arms and bizarre persona, Brian Wilson was made for Hollywood. He just couldn't get enough hitters out.
Wilson's time with the Dodgers came to an abrupt end Tuesday when he was designated for assignment and removed from the 40-man roster to accommodate newly signed starter Brandon McCarthy.
The Dodgers are responsible for all of Wilson's $9.5-million salary, a small portion of which they could unload by trading the former All-Star relief pitcher in the next 10 days. If the Dodgers fail to move Wilson, they almost certainly would release him.
"For us, the contract is the contract," General Manager Farhan Zaidi said. "We don't want to be tied down by financial obligations."
Wilson, 32, is the latest player the Dodgers will pay to play elsewhere next season as part of the new front office's plan to reconstruct the roster.
When the Dodgers traded Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres last week, they agreed to pay $32 million of the $107 million he is guaranteed over the next five seasons. They also sent an estimated $12 million to the Miami Marlins to cover the salaries of Dan Haren and Dee Gordon.
Wilson initially came to the Dodgers as a bargain. A former World Series hero as a closer with the San Francisco Giants, he signed with the Dodgers in the middle of the 2013 season for $1 million. Wilson was spectacular as Kenley Jansen's setup man, posting a 0.66 earned-run average in 18 games.
Wilson was re-signed last off-season by Zaidi's predecessor, Ned Colletti. The contract called for Wilson to earn $10 million next season and included a player option for 2015 that he exercised last month.
Wilson had a 4.66 ERA in 61 games last season. He pitched at a lower velocity than the previous season, but Zaidi said medical concerns didn't factor into the decision to let Wilson go.
"At this point, we just didn't feel he was one of the best seven reliever options that we had," Zaidi said.
Zaidi said Wilson became expendable in the wake of the additions of right-handed relievers Joel Peralta, Chris Hatcher and Juan Nicasio. The trio is expected to be part of the bullpen that includes Jansen, left-hander J.P. Howell and right-hander Brandon League.
The Dodgers completed their Nov. 24 trade for Nicasio on Tuesday by sending minor league outfielder Noel Cuevas to the Colorado Rockies.
Wilson's departure created roster space for McCarthy, whose four-year, $48-million contract became official.
McCarthy, 31, will receive a $6-million signing bonus and draw a salary of $11 million in each the first two years of the contract and $10 million in each of the last two.
The right-hander will be expected to solidify the back end of the rotation, along with Brett Anderson, who is finalizing a one-year, $10-million deal with the club. McCarthy and Anderson pitched for the Oakland Athletics when Zaidi worked in their front office.
Both McCarthy and Anderson are considered medical risks. McCarthy has pitched more than 135 innings only twice in his nine-year career, which has included stops with the Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees.
However, McCarthy and Zaidi are convinced his shoulder problems are something of the past. Zaidi noted that McCarthy pitched a career-high 200 innings last season, which he split between the Diamondbacks and Yankees. McCarthy was 10-15 with a 4.05 ERA, including 7-5 with a 2.89 ERA with the Yankees.
"The proof is in the pudding," Zaidi said.
McCarthy was struck in the head by a line drive in 2012 and suffered a seizure in June 2013 that resulted in him losing 13 pounds. To regain the weight, he started an intense weightlifting program last off-season. McCarthy thinks that by strengthening his shoulder muscles, he reduced stress on his shoulder blade.
"I could instantly tell from day one of spring that everything felt kind of different," McCarthy said. "Everything was just stronger. I just felt like stronger person."
Zaidi was also encouraged by how McCarthy gained velocity on his fastball, from an average of 90.7 mph in 2013 to 92.7 last season, according to FanGraphs.
"Pretty unheard of for a guy at his age," Zaidi said.