Rangers watch as options dwindle

Posted Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011  comments  Print Reprints
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Breaking news update: A person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press that the Los Angeles Angels have made another big splash, agreeing to a deal with free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson.

The lefty's five-year contract is worth around $75 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because it had not been announced.

Earlier in the day, the Angels and slugger Albert Pujols agreed to a 10-year contract worth $250 million to $260 million, a person familiar with that deal told the AP.

The 31-year-old Wilson was 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA with the Rangers last season, leading Texas to its second straight World Series. --Ben Walker, AP Baseball Writer

DALLAS -- C.J. Wilson arrived at the winter meetings Wednesday night as he closed in on signing a multiyear contract, though likely not with the Texas Rangers.

The free-agent left-hander was meeting with his agent at the Hilton Anatole to consider offers from the Rangers, division rival Anaheim and Miami even though the free-spending Marlins had plucked Mark Buehrle earlier in the day with a 4-year, $58 million deal.

But the Angels and the Marlins were considered the favorites to land Wilson, not just by a flood of local and national reports but also by some in the Rangers organization.

The chances that the Rangers stand pat this off-season increase if Wilson doesn't re-sign, and puts a premium on the four returning starters to improve on impressive 2011 seasons.

And Neftali Feliz? For now, he becomes the key piece of the 2012 rotation.

"We're certainly not expecting him to come out right away and all of a sudden he's going to dominate," manager Ron Washington said. "He will dominate before it's over, but it's a process.

"Everything that he may have to go through, we're here to help him. He's not going to go through this battle all by himself. We do feel like he has the repertoire, and he will refine it starting before spring training. Then, we'll give him the ball and let his talents and whatever knowledge we're able to impart to him help him make it through the season."

Daniels said that the Rangers were prepared for a call from Wilson's agent to tell them that the left-hander will accept another deal.

They hadn't met with agent Bob Garber before the daily media briefing at 5:45 p.m., and Daniels said there were no plans to do so the rest of the day.

But the Rangers have always known that losing Wilson was a strong possibility. To that end, they signed free-agent closer Joe Nathan on Nov. 21 and moved Feliz to the rotation.

Miami reportedly had offered Wilson a six-year deal, and Anaheim had offered five. The Rangers had not gone beyond four years, according to a source, and were certain to not go to six.

The failed pursuit of Buehrle and the anticipated miss on Wilson have driven home the same sentiments the Rangers felt last season when they couldn't re-sign Cliff Lee.

"The large part of the reason we made the move with Nathan and Feliz was because we know how hard it is to acquire that kind of guy," Daniels said. "We never were set in the expectation that we were definitely going to add one.... All it does is reinforce the need to develop your own."

Though the Rangers didn't sign Feliz out of the Dominican Republic, they acquired him at age 19 and have completed his development into an All-Star closer, the 2010 Rookie of the Year and a right-hander they believe can be a top-of-the-rotation starter.

He will be paid just more than the league minimum of $480,000, perhaps as much as $16 million less than Wilson could make in the first year of a new deal with another club.

The Rangers saw Feliz become more comfortable with his off-speed pitches toward the end of last season, but they had seen improvement in them as he tried to win a rotation spot last spring.

Feliz won't be expected to log 200 innings, and they don't want him to have to feel like he must in his first year as a big-league starter.

"We will sit down and talk to him about pace, how you go about your business as a starter, the things that you want to try to do and where you want to get," Washington said.

"It's a process. So, we'll have him go through the process. We'll help him go through the process, and that's exactly where we'll start things."

The search for a starter won't end once Wilson makes his decision.

The Rangers will have interest if right-hander Yu Darvish is posted by his Japanese team, and the Rangers have looked into trading for a starter but have found the asking price to be too high.

Plan C, therefore, might be the five starters currently on the roster.

"We're not going to panic," Washington said.

"We're going to show up and we're going to put the guys out there that we have, and we're going to do what we always do, play baseball."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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