During this offseason, the Texas Rangers are preparing for the strong possibility that they will lose their number one starting pitcher, C.J. Wilson, who is currently a free agent. There are multiple suitors for him, including the Rangers’ divisional rivals, the L.A. Angels.
Los Angeles Angels
The 2011 season was a good one for Wilson, a left-hander, as he pitched his team to a respectable 16 wins on the season, the best record on the Rangers' staff. The Angels are specifically looking for a left-handed pitcher who can fit into its starting rotation.
Jerry Dipoto, the Angels' general manager, says the team is very interested in Wilson and hopes that the Southern California native feels the same about a move to Anaheim (according to ESPN Dallas). Dipoto has already had a long meeting with Wilson’s agent, Bob Garber, during the GM meetings in Milwaukee this week.
After the year in which the Angels let catcher and first baseman Mike Napoli get away, eventually ending up in Texas, a deal with Wilson would be even sweeter for them. Napoli hit for a .320 batting average this year and was far and away Texas’ most valuable player in the 2011 World Series.
Weighing the Value of a Pitcher
At the end of the 2010 season, which was capped by the Rangers' first trip to the fall classic, Texas lost its midseason acquisition, ace pitcher, Cliff Lee, to free agency. Wilson took Lee’s place at the top of the rotation for Texas in 2011, and he accomplished an ERA of 2.94, which ranked seventh in the American League.
One thing Rangers observers learned from last year’s free agent race for Cliff Lee, the Rangers front office has a limit on how far it will go to keep top caliber pitchers. Lee, who is a bona fide ace, left the door open to stay in Texas in 2010, but he wanted a seven-year contract to do so. According to ESPN Dallas, it was the length of the contract that Texas viewed as the deal killer.
Wilson, on the other hand, is an excellent rotation pitcher, but he suffered all year long in 2011 with opinions locally that he is not a real “ace,” which is a pitcher who can be counted on to shut down the opposition most times, even in the midst of a losing streak.