MILWAUKEE -- The agent for free-agent starting pitcher C.J. Wilson had dinner Tuesday evening with Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine and director of baseball operations Matt Vinnola, and walked away from the "productive" meeting with the impression that the Rangers will be aggressive in their pursuit of the left-hander.
Bob Garber said that he has yet to field offers for Wilson but expects negotiations to pick up leading to the winter meetings Dec. 5-8 in Dallas. The Wilson camp wants to trim the current field, which includes Anaheim, New York and Miami, from eight to five or six.
Garber said that the Rangers will approach Wilson as they would any other free agent, and not as one who has spent his entire career with them. Wilson is prepared to leave the Rangers if they can't match another team's offer.
"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," Garber said. "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."
The market for Wilson could hit six years, a length that could turn away the Rangers. Only last year team president Nolan Ryan was uncomfortable offering more than five years to Cliff Lee. The Rangers also have players who are due raises through salary arbitration or are candidates for long-term extensions.
Even though ownership has been supportive by adding payroll to keep the Rangers atop the American League, the bidding for Wilson could become too high for them.
"We recognize it's highly infrequent that a player actually signs for his fair market value if there’s an open market and there’s a demand for the player," Levine said. "We would be less inclined to react to a competitor in our division or otherwise if that meant straying from what we felt would preclude us from being able to put together a competitive team. All of the pieces of the puzzle have to work together. There are different ways of achieving that."
-- Jeff Wilson