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C.J. Wilson is looking for a six-year, $120 million contract

Nov 16, 2011, 10:08 PM EDT

2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals Getty Images

From Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated comes word that free agent left-hander C.J. Wilson is seeking a six-year contract worth “close to” $120 million.

Wilson is a shining light on a free agent market short on quality starting pitching and he might be able to land a six-year deal with so many teams desperate for rotation upgrades, but $20 million-per-season is what Roy Halladay is currently earning with the Phillies and more than what Miguel Cabrera is getting from the Tigers. In other words, it’s a reach.

But you can’t really blame his agent for asking.

Wilson, 30, registered a 2.94 ERA and 206/74 K/BB ratio in 223 1/3 innings this season for the American League champion Rangers. He had a 3.35 ERA and 170/93 K/BB ratio in 204 innings the year before.

The Marlins, Red Sox, Yankees and Angels are all said to have interest, and the Rangers also want him back.

  1. uyf1950 - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    CJ, more power to you if you can get it. My best guess is he’s going to come up a year short and about $20 to $30M short. My best guess is 5 years/$85 to $90M OR 6 years about $95M. Don’t think he hits triple digits regardless of the number of years.

    • lyon810 - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:48 PM

      In reality (which most of us don’t live in), he isn’t even worth what you’re guessing. But I agree that’s what he’ll likely fetch.

  2. lyon810 - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    Remember a time when you had to be really good to get $20 mil per season? This guy is way over-valued and deserves nothing close to what he’s asking for.

    • baseballisboring - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:15 AM

      Is he really that overvalued? That’s just his agent’s starting price, in a year where there’s practically no starting pitching on the market. He definitely doesn’t get 120, probably closer to 90 or something, and he’s probably not even worth quite that, but he does have a 3.40 FIP over the last two seasons. He does scare me just a bit though…no real knockout pitch and he walks a lot of guys.

      • lyon810 - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:30 AM

        Not to say that the two pitchers are anything alike, but in terms of their free agency, this is John Lackey all over again. A pitcher with number 2 or 3 stuff that simply cashes in big via free agency because of the lack of starting pitching available.

        If he lands this insane contract, it is only a testament to the weak market, not his talent.

    • uyf1950 - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:12 AM

      Without getting to nostalgic. Heck I remember when you had to be great to make $100K.

      • hep3 - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        I remember reading a Sport Magazine article where Pete Rose said he wanted to be the first $100,000 singles hitter. I am thinking this would have been about ’68 or ’69. Man, I am old.

      • nolanwiffle - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:33 AM

        I remember the Sport Magazine from 1980 in the wake of Nolan Ryan signing with Houston for the first-ever $1M/season deal. They (rightfully) called it a bit of a gamble because he was a power pitcher who had issues with blisters on his fingers and was slightly past a pitcher’s prime years….

        They failed to account for the “freak-of-nature” factor.

  3. blueintown - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:47 PM

    Anyone willing to pay this guy $120 mil is off their rocker. If he gets 120, Buehrle should get 240. Absolutely nuts.

    • lyon810 - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:50 PM

      CJ WILSON: 6 yrs/ $120,000,036…you can really buy a ton of those dumb energy necklaces with that much dough.

    • blueintown - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:17 PM

      ..and then he and Turk Wendell can have a dumb necklace duel.

      • lyon810 - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:28 AM

        that is a fight that Turk ALWAYS wins.

      • bravojawja - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:20 AM

        Not always — just 99 times out of 100.

    • baseballisboring - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:41 AM

      You’re really trying to say Buehrle is that much better than CJ? I mean Buehrle’s definitely safer, you know what you’re getting, but CJ is still a good #2 or a great #3.

    • Ari Collins - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:10 AM

      Wow, there are people who think that Mark Buehrle is BETTER than Wilson? I know people are severely underrating/backlashing C.J. Wilson, but that’s insane. Buehrle’s last season with an ERA lower than Wilson’s 2010 was in 2005, and he’s never had a year as good as Wilson’s 2011.

      Buehrle’s career ERA is 4. He’s a back of the rotation starter with the valuable quality of eating innings. The idea that he should be getting more than a guy who’s pitched like an ace the last two years is just crazy.

  4. mdpickles - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:49 PM

    I see six years, $120 million in the future of Cole Hamels, not C.J. Wilson.

    • Ari Collins - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:51 PM

      Try 6/150 for Hamels.

      • uyf1950 - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:09 PM

        Assuming Hamels agent negotiates his next contract for something even a little north of $20M per and he stays in Philly, for at least the 2013 and 2014 seasons it’s very possible no make that guaranteed that Doc Halladay would be the 3rd highest paid pitcher on the Phillies staff. That hardly seems fair.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:35 PM

        Yeah, he left a ton of money on the table, there.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:47 AM

      that’s because you like the Phillies – Hamels slots behind Weaver – and that’s charitable.

      • paperlions - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:15 AM

        There is very little difference between the performances of Hamels and Weaver, Hamels walks fewer guys and strikes out more, pitches in more of a hitters park, has a similar career FIP and much better career xFIP. In short, there isn’t much of a difference between the two.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:42 AM

        Or, in less short: Hamels is a little bit better, and Weaver signed his contract a year and a half before FA, while Hamels will be a FA if the Phillies don’t lock him up this offseason.

        Look for Hamels to get Sabathia money, plus inflation, assuming he has a typical Cole Hamels season.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:04 AM

      Is there some kind of COle Hamels cult? I can’t believe the numbers you guys are throwing around for him.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:01 AM

        Weaver’s career ERA is slightly better (3.31 to 3.39), while Hamels has a big edge in strikeout rate and groundball rate, which leads to his FIP being a touch better and his xFIP (which adjusts for the fact that he gives up a lot of HRs in CBP) a ton better.

        Anyway, Hamels will get more money than Weaver not just because he’s a bit better but because he’s closer to free agency (or will get a lot more money if he reaches free agency). Weaver traded away guaranteed money for the security of signing an extension before he had the chance to get injured or see his 1.5-year improvement regress.

        Additionally, it’s been over a year since Weaver signed, and inflation’s a @*$%!.

      • uyf1950 - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:19 AM

        For what it’s worth unless Hamels wants to give the Phillies a “hometown discount” I see him getting 6 or 7 years/$23M per. (I’m thinking 7 years more likely than 6).

        Don’t see him getting up to or over $25M per because that will make him not only higher paid than Halliday which I think is a shame but it will also make him higher paid than Lee. I don’t see that in the cards if he “stays” in Philly. If he goes somewhere else that’s a different story.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:44 AM

        I think he might well get $25MM+, especially since I expect the Sox, Yankees, Phillies, and many competitive teams to get involved. I don’t see the salary of Lee being an issue… it’ll be two years after Lee signed, and salaries go up.

      • uyf1950 - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:17 PM

        Ari, if those 3 teams get involved your probably right. I think the only thing that might put a little bit of a ceiling on his offers and stop him from cracking the $25M per mark but not much is how many of that very good 2013 FA class actually make it to Free Agency. Or what trades teams like the Yankees and Red Sox make between now and then to address whatever pitching concern they may have.
        Besides baring something unforeseen Hamels is going to be a very, very rich man before to long.

  5. miketreedy - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:05 PM

    Well, as a Rangers fan I wanted a couple WS wins over the past two years from CJ. It just proves we don’t always get what we want.

  6. dbick - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:05 PM

    If CJ gets that I shudder to think what my Phils are gonna have to shell out for Hamels

    • uyf1950 - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:43 AM

      No need to shudder for that reason. But when the time comes look for at least a $20M per next to the number of years for Hamels. Feel better now?

  7. robtgm - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:20 AM

    He’s not worth half that. Yanks stay away.

  8. purnellmeagrejr - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:48 AM

    By the way – there were ZERO interesting baseball tidbits today – can’t believe this is the best.

  9. bigtrav425 - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    lmao…this is pretty funny! no way he gets that….15 TOPS!

  10. Ari Collins - Nov 17, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    In order to say that Wilson is not worth $100MM, you would have to find a comparable pitcher recently who hit free agency and got less than that.

    The issue is that people a) are underrating how well Wilson has pitched the last two years, b) haven’t been paying attention to free agent pitcher salaries over the last few years, and c) don’t understand inflation.

    • uyf1950 - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:01 AM

      Ari, while I mostly agree you have left out one very important factor in your equation. That being in order for a player in this case Wilson to get $100M the teams that are in need of his services. And while it’s true that it only takes 2 teams the only team I see willing to invest 6 years in Wilson which is what I think it takes for him to get $100M contract are the Rangers. I can’t see any of the “other” teams GM’s biting on a 6 year deal for a pitcher that will turn 31 tomorrow (11/18/2011). Then you have to ask yourself if there aren’t any other teams that would extend those years why would the Rangers. I guess for me the answer is they wouldn’t. Just my opinion.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:13 AM

        The fact that he’s turned 31 isn’t, according to recent history, a significant factor in GM decisions. Recent pitchers with Wilson’s record of success have gotten huge contracts despite being on the wrong side of 30. While Lee and Sabathia have gotten 5-year deals, they have easy vesting options for the 6th year, and Sabathia got 7 years in his first deal.

        That said, it’s possible you’re right and he will, in fact, only get 5 years, with maybe a team option or vesting option. But I think even if that’s true, he’s likely to hit $100MM, or come very close to it.

        I’m pretty sure that that kind of deal (a 5-year deal worth close to $100MM) is going to be offered by quite a few teams, not just the Rangers. I would guess the Rangers, Angels, Yankees, at the least.

        We’ll find out soon enough!

      • uyf1950 - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:53 AM

        Ari, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to compare Wilson to either Lee or CC. As for the comment that CC got a 7 year deal that’s true but 2 things he had a much richer resume even back then then Wilson has today and he was only 28 going on 29 in June of the 2009 season. A full 2 1/2 years younger than Wilson will be tomorrow. That’s a big difference.

        Also I can see the Rangers and Angels competing for his services but I just don’t see the Yankees investing more then 5 years/$85M in him if they decide he’s worth bidding on. Just my opinion but I think in 2012 this year the Yankees are looking for a pitcher who doesn’t require that sort of commitment. I could be wrong and like you said we’ll see soon enough. Something tells me and don’t ask me why because I couldn’t tell you but I see Oswalt as a much more likely candidate for the Yankees. The Yankees just seem to be feigning interest in him.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:15 PM

        Could be. But what makes you think the Yankees are suddenly not willing to pay market price for a #2?

      • uyf1950 - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:30 PM

        If you will allow me to re-phase your question. Let’s say the question is: What makes me think the Yankees won’t pay market price for Wilson as a #2?
        First: Like I said i don’t think the Yankees want to go 6 years for a 31 year old.
        Second: I don’t think the Yankees want a #2 that’s a lefty when they already have a #1 that’s a lefty.
        Third: If the Yankees were to sign Wilson for what you believe will be his going price $20M per for at least 5 possible 6 years. They have absolutely no need for Banuelos someone who they have done everything possible not to trade. Who they (Yankees) believe have a lot of upside and can be a #2 down the road. Whether of not that turns out to be the case doesn’t matter that’s what they believe.
        Lastly, and this is just me thinking out loud. If the Yankees are going to sign or trade for a #2 and spend $20M per my guess it’s for a right handed pitcher. Until then I think the cards call for them to look for a short term investment like Oswalt. As I mentioned previously.

        We’ll see.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:49 PM

        I’d guess that the Yankees are less concerned with having too left-handed a rotation than they are with having the right handedness or their stadium. YS is much better for a LHP than a RHP.

        And I’m pretty sure Banuelos doesn’t enter into it. If Banuelos becomes major league ready, the fact that there’s a pitcher of similar quality and handedness would make no difference. Any more than the Phillies would avoid getting Cliff Lee because they already have a left-handed ace, or the Angels wouldn’t trade for Dan Haren because they already have Jered Weaver. You can never have too many frontline pitchers, unless you already have five (not even the Phillies have that), or you don’t have the money (not a concern for the Yankees, seems like).

        The Yankees may not get Wilson. And they may decide they don’t value him as high as other teams. But it don’t think it will be the handedness of Sabathia or Banuelos that decides it.

      • uyf1950 - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:29 PM

        Ari, we can go on and on with this. Like we both said we’ll see. Just one final comment on my part I think your comparison to the Phillies and A’s about their LHP is somewhat misleading in that your comparison only draws upon the 2 teams having 2 LHP in the starting rotation. My comment was that if the Yankees were to sign CJ Wilson there would be no need for them to keep Banuelos since that would give the Yankees potentially 3 starting LHP in the rotation if everything were to go according to Yankees plans for Banuelos making the big league team in 2013. I might be wrong and I’m certainly not going to take the time to research this issue but to my best recollection the Yankees have never had 3 LHP in their starting rotation and certainly never that had the potential for them to remain in the rotation for 5 or 6 years. Which would be potentially the case in this example. All I’m saying is if they do sign Wilson (which I don’t think they will) it won’t be for 9 figures and Banuelos will be trade bait at that point.

        Like I said we can go back and forth about this forever, we’ll just have to wait and see how the Wilson situation plays out.

  11. roycethebaseballhack - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    You folks are all forgetting that, whomever shells out that kind of scratch for CJ Wilson gets a truly unique pitcher with uncanny abilities. Consider that, he is the very first pitcher in MLB history to:
    – Loose a Division Championship game
    – Loose a League Championship game
    – Loose a World Series Game
    and…
    – Loose the All Star Game.

    …..All in one season. That kind of an impact player is rare; one-in-a-million, in fact. Try to put a price tag on that. You can’t.

  12. wlubake - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    While the price is high for Wilson, this is a guy on the upswing, not the decline. He has 2 years of starting pitching under his belt. Despite being 30, he has a low career pitch count. Self-motivated, hard worker who has zero off-field concerns. I think you can expect at least 4 years of 2010 CJ. Probably 2 more years of 2011 CJ.

    I don’t want my Rangers to sign him, but he’s the kind of signing that looks high now, but will look good 4 years from now when guys are getting more and producing less.

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