Kotsay brought versatility to the Red Sox last year as a backup at first base and in the outfield. Wilkerson fills those same roles. He agreed Monday to a minor league contract with an invitation to Boston's major league camp.
Wilkerson could earn up to $2.5 million if added to the major league roster. He would get a one-year contract for the minimum of $400,000 and could make $1.1 million more in roster bonuses and $1 million in performance bonuses.
It doesn't take "a rocket scientist to figure it out" where he might be used, Wilkerson said.
First, he must convince the Red Sox he belongs in the majors after hitting .220 with four homers and 28 RBIs in 104 games last year with Seattle and Toronto.
"It was really tough," Wilkerson said of his start with the Mariners. "Then I felt like I got off to a pretty good start there in Toronto and then they made some changes and that's the way the business of baseball is. But I felt like I rededicated myself to training and working hard and getting ready for this season."
Wilkerson was an everyday player for three seasons with the Expos and a fourth season when they moved to Washington in 2005. He hit a career-high 32 homers in 2004 but said he tried to lose weight after last season "knowing that [the Red Sox] might need some help there in center field to give Jacoby [Ellsbury] some days off."
Kotsay underwent back surgery late last month that is expected to keep him out at least until May.
"There's a lot of opportunity for me to get the necessary at-bats to compete and to contribute to this team in a lot of ballgames," Wilkerson said.