Bob Garber gets a lot of free meals.
The agent for free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson spent three hours dining with the GM and AGM of the Angels on Monday night in Milwaukee and then spent Tuesday evening dining in the company of Texas Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine and Director of Baseball Operations Matt Vinnola, Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram reports.
According to the article, Wilson would like to stay, but is prepared to leave the Rangers if he doesn’t get “the right offer.” Translation: there will be no hometown discounts given to Texas.
The Rangers, for their part, appeared as if they would be taking a conservative approach toward retaining their left hander and, despite the tenor of the S-T piece, I’m not sure this meeting changes any of that.
For his part, Garber shared some thoughts, including a surprise at the Rangers’ approach.
“They showed significant interest in trying to bring C.J. back and are willing to treat him as another other team would in the free-agent process.”
“They’re going to be more aggressive than I thought. I assumed they were going to sit on the back burner. Now, it seems like they’re putting him on the front burner.”
It is widely known both that Wilson is seeking a minimum of a five-year deal and also that Texas traditionally balks at long-term contracts for pitchers. Couple that with the recent rumors that the Yankees might be scared off by Wilson’s potential $100 million price tag and you have a recipe for Texas to be left without their defacto ace.
Now, I don’t believe that Wilson is deserving of a $100 million deal, even at six years ($16.667 MM annual average), but that doesn’t mean he won’t get one. He is widely regarded as the best free agent pitcher available and with as much interest as he has already drawn, chances are good that some club will go to that sixth year, I just can’t foresee that club being Texas.
Even without Wilson, the Rangers would have a solid starting staff with southpaws Matt Harrison and Derek Holland, along with Colby Lewis, Alexi Ogando and potentially both Scott Feldman and Neftali Feliz, should Feliz get transitioned back to a starting role. Feldman is the one that is easy to dismiss since he worked exclusively from the bullpen in 2011 while working his way back from injury, but owed $6.5 million in 2012, I have to think he’ll get every opportunity to start should Feliz be kept in the ‘pen. Depending on the decision with Feliz, that’s five solid starters and potentially six.
My guess here is that the Rangers are doing their due diligence and alerting Wilson that they are interested in retaining him, but given their other, far less expensive, options, Wilson would almost be a luxury for this team. There is a saying that you can never have too much pitching, and more often than not that turns out to be true, but is this the guy you want to break the bank for?
The Rangers payroll was north of $92 million last year and the 2012 model will already feature a $7 million bump in pay to Josh Hamilton. Hamilton is also eligible for free agency after the 2012 season, so there will have to be money allotted to re-signing or extending their MVP outfielder. Wilson earned $7 million last season. Can the Rangers afford to more than double Wilson’s salary while also paying significant raises to Hamilton and Feldman, plus having guys like Nelson Cruz, Harrison, and Mike Napoli due pay raises through arbitration?
It seems like a stretch to me, and an unnecessary one at that.