December 6, 2011

Rangers step up pursuit of left-hander C.J. Wilson

C.J. Wilson was finally expected to get an offer from his old team.

DALLAS -- These winter meetings aren't all about C.J. Wilson for the Texas Rangers. Seriously.

Club brass has hardly left the Hilton Anatole, much less their war-room suite, over the first two days as they hunt down team needs such as a utility infielder and another bullpen piece.

But while a rotation addition isn't seen as a necessity, the pursuit of a starter, led by Wilson, remains the dominant Rangers storyline.

To that end, general manager Jon Daniels finally met with Wilson's agent late Tuesday night as the Rangers began to put their best foot forward in their attempt to re-sign Wilson.

Agent Bob Garber said that the meeting was "great" but didn't say if an offer had been extended.

"He might get an offer he can't refuse tonight, and vice versa we might get an opportunity we can't refuse," Daniels said before the meeting. "We've just agreed to stay in touch, keep each other posted and keep the dialogue going. We're not holding him up, and he's not holding us up."

The meeting with Garber took place after the Rangers' annual dinner with their minor-league affiliates, and broke up shortly after 10 p.m. The Rangers entered Tuesday's meeting without having made an offer for Wilson since proposing a four-year, $48 million extension during spring training.

They remain in a mix with five teams, though Washington's interest reportedly was waning. Anaheim is a player, but might have difficulty offering Wilson a more lucrative deal than the five-year, $85 million pact that Cy Young runner-up Jered Weaver signed late last season.

Miami is also in the Wilson sweepstakes despite having already signed free agents Heath Bell and Jose Reyes, and despite offering a reported 10-year contract to Albert Pujols.

Reports also indicate that Boston and the Chicago Cubs have shown a late interest.

"The best thing for us would be for him to go to Texas," Daniels said. "If we don't sign him, I'd prefer he's in the National League. We don't want to see the Angels get any good players."

Wilson, who appeared on a local radio show shortly before noon and spoke to some local media members by phone, said that the Rangers have been "patient" so far in their pursuit of him.

He doesn't have a timeframe for signing, though it was his goal to wrap up this week a process that has taken longer than he expected. Wilson considers each of the teams pursuing him to be solid options, and won't necessarily snatch up the most lucrative offer.

"There's a difference between signing the best contract and signing the best situation," he said. "There are a lot of different possibilities. It's very unpredictable."

The Rangers have also been in contact with Jeff Berry, the agent for Mark Buehrle, and have spoken with Garber about another of his clients, Roy Oswalt.

They are veterans who have thrown five times the innings Wilson has accumulated in two seasons as a starter. The Rangers have asked themselves whether a long-term commitment to a pitcher who has thrown only 4271/3 innings as a starter is wise investment.

"The fact that C.J. has only started 400-something innings, you can look at it two different ways," team president Nolan Ryan said. "Does that mean that you really don't know how he will handle the workload going forward? Or is he better prepared to handle the workload going forward? It's hard to say."

Buehrle has never thrown fewer than 200 innings since his first big-league season in 2001, and has done so without ever landing on the disabled list.

Oswalt has been a workhorse, too, surpassing the 200-inning mark seven times since 2001, but he has been sacked by lower-back issues that are a concern for the Rangers.

Wilson, though, grabbed the Rangers' focus Tuesday.

"We know what C.J.'s capable of doing," Ryan said. "We're really, truly believe in C.J. We're certainly more familiar and comfortable with him than anyone else."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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