Re: Reds sign Wilson
I remember that Parker was more or less the Reds' first-ever major free agent signee. He was majorly down on his luck following drug scandals, injuries, and flat-out poor play from 1981-1983. He hadn't had a complete and effective year since 1980.
He joined a club that had had no one hit more than seventeen homers the previous year (1983) and could muster only 16 his first season (1984). I even remember an article in the Reds' newspaper-thingy: "Get off Parker's back, he'll hit homers". He didn't hit one until well over a month into the season.
But he certainly paid off in 1985 and 1986 (only falling down a bit in 1987, where he was behind the curve of the baseball-wide offensive explosion).
Nowadays, if the Reds signed a 32/33 year-old outfielder who hadn't done much in the three years previous, everyone would scream that they were getting ripped off to have someone for four years in their decline phase. But it really all depends on the player.