Extension Candidate: C.J. Wilson

C.J. Wilson is not going to sign for Cliff Lee money when he hits free agency this offseason. Nine-figure deals are out of reach to any pitcher who doesn’t threaten to win the Cy Young every year, so Wilson can forget about matching the contract his former rotation-mate signed.

C.J. Wilson

But Wilson is likely due for a raise next year, whether the Rangers give it to him or someone else does. The left-hander will hit free agency for the first time in his career and though the Rangers are open to extending him before the season ends, it’s starting to look like Wilson will hit the open market.

In the last year-plus, comparable left-handers including Wandy Rodriguez, Ted Lilly, Jorge de la Rosa and Randy Wolf have signed deals that pay them an average of just over $10MM per free agent season. That appears to be the going rate for those who have proven themselves as number two or three starters.

Wilson had a breakout 2010 season in which he pitched like a top-of-the-rotation starter. He led his team, the eventual AL Champions, in ERA (3.35), ground ball rate (49.2%), starts (33), wins (15), complete games (3) and innings (204) and placed in the top ten in the American League in ERA, wins and opponents’ average

Those numbers are impressive, but Wilson also placed among the league leaders in some other categories. He led the league in walks (93) and placed sixth in the league in hit batsmen (10). Opponents hit just .266 against him on balls in play last year, sixth-lowest among AL starters. That figure suggests he could be due to regress in 2011, as does his tough-to-sustain home run to fly ball rate of 5.3%.

The Rangers are taking a risk either way. Either they take it now and invest tens of millions in a pitcher who could regress and has just one year of experience as a starter. Or they postpone the risk until after the season and hope to do what they couldn’t do when Lee hit the market: convince the free agent left-hander to choose Texas over his other suitors.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

10 Responses to Extension Candidate: C.J. Wilson Leave a Reply

  1. MadmanTX 4 years ago

    You just want to be sure Wilson is consistent. As a Ranger fan, I know too well that when he makes a mistake or has a bad streak, he dwells on it and becomes a head case. Plus, I still remember when he got pulled from a game and tossed Wash the ball instead of handing it to him. Talent and immaturity are a bad combo when wanting to get a contract extension done.

  2. bluejaycountry 4 years ago

    wilson would be the pitching analog of jose bautista (to a lesser extent). only difference is the rangers are playing it smart with so much risk involved.

  3. mtex 4 years ago

    So why do we get this article hours after the news broke that Wilson isn’t likely to be extended during the season?

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      is during the season the only time a player can be extended??

      • mtex 4 years ago

        well, obviously not. But, if the window is all but closed on negotiating until after the season, send me this story in October – not hours after it’s announced that it probably won’t happen.

  4. I’m a Wilson fan but somebody will overpay for him. I bet he leaves the Rangers next year and gets a 4 year 48 to 50 million dollar deal.

  5. GaryLe 4 years ago

    Look at the 2012 free agent class. ZERO pitching. You have Sabathia if he opts out, Buehrle and Edwin Jackson, that’s it. If CJ puts up another 4.4 WAR season, he’ll just laugh at a $33 million guarantee. You’re probably looking at something closer to double that.

  6. GaryLe 4 years ago

    Well there is the adage “You can never have enough pitching.” I can envision the Yankees, Orioles, Tigers, Angels, Dodgers, Cubs, Mets, Nats all having various forms of interest and money to spend.

    Edwin Jackson is currently signed for 2 yrs/$12.55M under his 2nd and 3rd arbitration years. He’s going to be 3 years younger than Pineiro when Joel hit free agency, has put together back to back 200 inning campaigns, and strikes out more than 2 more batters per nine innings than Pineiro. Do you really think he’s going to settle for a roughly 10% raise in free agency?

    I think a “base” starting point with Edwin is Ted Lilly’s 4/$40 contract in 2007 with the Cubs.

  7. I’m not sure. His relationship with Washington and the front office hasn’t been the greatest. He’s from the west coast and might try to move that way but I don’t know who would be in the bidding. Maybe the Dodgers if there ownership situation gets figured out? If he stays in Texas, he will end up with a big deal. We always have to pay out the nose for FA pitching, even to keep our own.

  8. The Mets having money to spend?? We can only hope..

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