Free agent C.J. Wilson, Angels reach 5-year deal
AP Baseball Writer
DALLAS (AP) – C.J. Wilson strolled through the hotel lobby, posed for a picture with two babies and waved to a few Texas Rangers fans.
Waved goodbye, actually.
The Los Angeles Angels turned their own double play Thursday by landing a pair of prize free agents, adding Wilson to a roster suddenly boosted by the acquisition of Albert Pujols.
“Last night was crazy,” Wilson said. “It was like minute-by-minute.”
Wilson agreed to a five-year contract worth $77.5 million. Pujols got a $254 million, 10-year deal. Both are subject to the All-Stars passing physicals.
Wilson was 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA with Texas last season, helping the Rangers reach their second straight World Series. Now, the 31-year-old lefty is joining the team that finished 10 games behind Texas in the AL West.
“I’d like to tell you that was a focus at all, but truly, our thought was, C.J. Wilson has been one of the premier starting pitchers in the American League over the last few years,” new Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “However that affects other teams is just how it affects other teams. I can’t say that that was a primary focus.”
Wilson had a guaranteed six-year offer from the Miami Marlins, who reached deals with All-Star free agents Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle in the last week.
“This was the Marlins’ winter meetings up until the last few minutes,” said Wilson’s agent, Bob Garber.
Wilson was roaming around the hotel where the annual baseball gathering was wrapping. He chatted with Texas fans, thanking them for their support.
“It’s a difficult thing to leave,” he told a man who took his picture with a cell phone camera.
Born and raised in Southern California, Wilson found the Angels a natural match.
“This was a multidimensional decision – it wasn’t just one thing,” Wilson said. “The area is great. The ballpark is great. The team is great. What’s not to like?”
Plus, maybe a few perks. A Porsche and a luxury suite are in the mix.
Garber said the Rangers were polite and cordial to Wilson, but never made a serious offer to keep their ace who made $7.15 million this year.
“I don’t see this as a punch, counter-punch thing,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. “Our goal is to be as good as we can be within the parameters we have to work with.”
“We’ve been there twice and have to find a way to win it. To do so, you have to get back there first. So we have to find a way to make the playoffs. That’s our focus. We feel good about our club and where we’re at, but clearly the division got a little tougher,” he said.
Dipoto did not provide details on the deals for Wilson and Pujols. Two people familiar with the agreements disclosed the terms on condition of anonymity because the contracts were not yet completed.
Wilson said he had a feeling the Angels were looking at more than pitching.
“I had read on Twitter that they were trying to get Albert Pujols,” he said. “That’s a pretty good guy to get.”
Wilson went 31-15 with a 3.14 ERA over 67 starts in the past two regular seasons, making a smooth transition from the bullpen. He pitched exclusively in relief from 2006-09 and had spent his entire career with Texas.
But he struggled in big games this year, probably costing himself millions in his new contract.
Wilson was winless in the 2011 postseason. He became the first pitcher in the same season to have a loss in the division series, championship series and World Series. He also was the losing pitcher in the All-Star game – the defeat cost the Rangers home-field advantage in the World Series, and they lost Game 7 at St. Louis.
He’s 1-5 with a 4.82 ERA lifetime in the postseason and lost his last five decisions.
The Angels went 86-76. They won the AL West from 2007-09 before Texas took over.
With the Rangers, Wilson was a No. 1 starter. He may not have that same role with the Angels, who have ace Jered Weaver (18-8, 2.41 ERA). Dan Haren (16-10, 3.17) and Ervin Santana (11-12, 3.28) also were in the rotation.
“Pretty good team,” Wilson said.