Texas Rangers Notes: How CC Sabathia’s new contract will affect C.J. Wilson


Texas Rangers staring pitcher C.J. Wilson is about to hit the free-agent market. Will he stay or will he go? (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Late Monday afternoon, news broke of a new five-year, $122 million contract extension for New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia. Sabathia broke the news on his Twitter account: “Yankee fans, I’ll be here fighting for number 28 next year.”

While New York fans were happy to hear their ace would be staying with the team for the foreseeable future, the news may have had the opposite effect on the Texas Rangers.

Their ace, C.J. Wilson, also filed for free agency and will test the open market this offseason. So, why is the news of Sabathia’s contract bad news for the Rangers? Well, to say it plainly, the Yankees left-hander may have just priced the Rangers right out of the running for their own free agent left-hander.

There were reports Wilson would be looking at a new contract somewhere in the range of $75 million to $80 million, a line Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman reports the Rangers would not be willing to cross.

But now that Sabathia’s contract is official, could Wilson possibly use it for leverage in his own free agency?

While they certainly aren’t the same type of pitcher, nor do they have the same skills, that may not stop Wilson’s camp from comparing their numbers from this past season. And, unfortunately for the Rangers, if they do just that, they may have quite the case to land a nine-figure deal.

In 2010, Sabathia and Wilson both made over 30 starts (34 – 33), pitched over 200 innings (237.1 – 223.1), finished with double digit wins (19 – 16), finished with more than 200 strikeouts (230 – 206) and both got their teams to the playoffs. But only one of them has helped his team to back-to-back World Series appearances and finished with an earned run average below three: Wilson at 2.94.

By the numbers, there isn’t much difference between the two pitchers. They differ by only one start, 14 innings pitched, 24 strikeouts and three wins, though Wilson had one fewer loss (seven) than Sabathia (eight).

So, how can Wilson really say he is worth what the Yankees are paying Sabathia? Certainly these two pitchers don’t have the same ability, style or effectiveness. When it comes to long-term contracts, sometimes being the same type of pitcher really makes little to no difference at all.

Most believe the Rangers have no chance at all in bringing Wilson back, and there are even more who believe they shouldn’t even try. His arrogant attitude and lackluster performance through the playoffs have left more questions than answers in the minds of both the front office and fans.

While Wilson’s agent prepares to contact a few teams when free agency begins on Thursday, we know his priority at this point would be a return to his home in Southern California or to be in a Yankees uniform.

There’s no doubt New York would love to add a solid number two starter behind Sabathia, but investing more than $100 million in two starters seems a bit much; though it hasn’t stopped the Yankees before.

The Rangers have played their cards close to the vest. General manager Jon Daniels even said during his press conference on Monday afternoon that they would love to have Wilson back in a Rangers uniform and was very complimentary about his performance this season. But that could be just GM-speak or “blowing smoke” up Wilson’s, um, shorts.

We know the Rangers are going to focus on pitching first, which was made clear by Daniels yesterday when he told the media it would be “priority one.” Not having the pitching to shut the Cardinals down for good when they had the chance is what killed Texas in the World Series.

So when the rumors start flying about Wilson seeking a $100 million-deal or more, don’t be the least bit surprised or say you didn’t see it coming. While you may not think he’s worth it, there’s no getting that through his head.

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