DALLAS -- A group of starters that had more doubters than believers at the start of last season turned in the best campaign by a Texas Rangers rotation since 1983.
Four of those five pitchers remain on the roster. Another pitcher, an All-Star closer, has been told that he will be a starter.
Those five, said general manager Jon Daniels, will give the Rangers a rotation that is good enough to help them return to the World Series for a third consecutive season.
A rotation upgrade isn't on their list of needs, but that doesn't mean the Rangers aren't looking for one. C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle, a pair of left-handers, rate at the top of a small group of free agents who would make the rotation better for 2012.
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Re-signing Wilson continues to be on the Rangers' agenda, but they are looking at other options.
"We feel good about our pitching staff if he doesn't sign with us, but, obviously, we'd feel better about it if he did," Daniels said Monday at the Hilton Anatole.
"We feel like we're in good shape without that, but we're always looking to get better. We're certainly exploring those options."
The Rangers met with Wilson's agent, Bob Garber, on Monday night. They are one of the five teams Wilson is considering, along with Miami, Anaheim, Washington and a team that some believe is the Chicago Cubs.
One of them, according to a major-league source, has made a six-year contract offer. The Rangers were expected to bolster the four-year, $48 million offer they made in spring training during their meeting with Garber.
Wilson hasn't chosen a favorite yet, Garber said, but hopes to sign by the end of these meetings.
"C.J. is comfortable with the process and confident with how things have been going," said Garber, who also has fielded inquiries from the Rangers on free-agent right-hander Roy Oswalt.
If a sixth year is needed to get Wilson, the Rangers would likely bow out. Team president Nolan Ryan is hesitant to offer that many years to a starting pitcher.
Another factor working against a Wilson return is that some in the organization prefer Buehrle, who has never thrown fewer than 200 innings in a full big-league season.
The pro-Buehrle camp also likes the effect his veteran presence would have on the Rangers' young starters, and he works quickly, pitches to contact and is a Gold Glove winner.
Manager Ron Washington is open to both Wilson and Buehrle, who is only 20 months older than Wilson despite having pitched in the big leagues since 2000.
"I've always admired him," Washington said. "He's a great competitor. He gets out there and keeps his team in ballgames. The guy pitches innings, and that's what you want out of a starting pitcher."
Miami could be the most serious bidder for Wilson, even though it has already nabbed Heath Bell and Jose Reyes. Wilson met with the Marlins last week, and left a favorable impression on owner Jeffrey Loria.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said that it would be difficult for the Angels to offer Wilson more than the five-year, $85 million deal they gave to Jered Weaver last season.
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