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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - It looks like the Texas Rangers have lost their star left-handed pitcher. According to reports, C.J. Wilson is heading home to California to play for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Associated Press is reporting that Wilson has agreed to a five-year agreement with the Halos worth $77.5 million.
Wilson had also been weighing an offer from the newly-named Miami Marlins, who reportedly offered up a larger contract. But joining the Angels allows Wilson to play near his Orange County home, and that seems to have outweighed everything else on the table.
The Rangers were no longer in the running for Wilson, according to the Associated Press, because they would not match the contracts offered by either Los Angeles or Miami. It is unsure if Wilson even received a formal offer from his former team. “I know Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels did what they felt they had to do,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said at the Winter Meetings in Dallas on Wednesday. “And once again, it comes down to what C.J. has to do. If it’s enough or not, I think C.J. has to answer that question.”
Wilson has been with the Rangers through his entire professional career. He was drafted by the team in 2001 and played in the minor leagues before moving up in 2005. When he does join the Angels, Wilson will still have plenty of opportunities to pitch in Arlington, as the two teams are American League West division rivals.
New Angels general manger Jerry Dipoto called the 31-year-old Wilson one of the “premier” pitchers in the game. He was 16-7 with a 2.94 earned run average with Texas last season, helping the team reach their second consecutive World Series. However, Wilson struggled in the postseason and could not earn a win, becoming the first pitcher to record a loss in the division series, championship series and World Series in the same season. He was also the losing pitcher in the 2011 MLB All-Star Game, which cost the Rangers home field advantage in the Fall Classic.
The Angels, meanwhile, finished the year 10 games behind the Rangers. “I can’t say that was a primary focus,” Dipoto said about taking Wilson away from a division rival. The lefty was a top starter for the Rangers, but could be pushed down to third in the rotation with Los Angeles, where Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana also take the mound.
Wilson is the second major acquisition for the Angels at the Winter Meetings. Earlier on Thursday morning, Albert Pujols agreed to a 10-year deal with Los Angeles worth $254 million. Pujols led the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series victory this past fall — over the Texas Rangers — and has been the National League MVP three times. Pujols was also being pursued by the Marlins, but those deals fell through after the Fish added pitcher Mark Buehrle on Wednesday.
The Rangers are hoping to replace Wilson through a trade. Tampa Bay Rays star James Shields and Chicago Cubs ace Matt Garza are on the list of possible players, along with Yu Darvish from Japan. “I don’t see this as a punch, counter-punch thing,” said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels after the Wilson and Pujols announcements. “Our goal is to be as good as we can within the parameters we have to work with.”
“We’ve been there twice and have to find a way to win it,” Daniels continued. “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.”
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)