C.J. Wilson agrees to five year, $77.5-million deal with Angels

Reporting from Dallas -- Like NBA star LeBron James, C.J. Wilson could have taken his talents to South Beach.

The Miami Marlins, who reeled in free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell this week, offered the pitcher a six-year, $99-million deal and reportedly were willing to go beyond $100 million for the left-hander.

But the lure of Newport Beach was stronger. Wilson, who pitched at Fountain Valley High School, Santa Ana College and Loyola Marymount, agreed in principle to a five-year, $77.5-million deal with the Angels on Thursday.

“If it was about the money, I’d be a Marlin,” Wilson, the former Texas Rangers ace, said. “It’s been a great time playing for the Texas organization for 11 years, and I love my teammates.


“But at the end of the day, my family and my friends back home were big players in this. Going back to where you’re from is a difficult thing to turn down.”

The hard-throwing Wilson, 31, was 16-7 with 2.94 earned-run average and 206 strikeouts in 2011 and 15-8 with a 3.38 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 2010, helping the Rangers reach the World Series both seasons.

The biggest knock on Wilson is that he hasn’t pitched well in the postseason.

In 10 playoff games — nine starts — Wilson is 1-5 with a 4.82 ERA, giving up 46 hits, including 10 home runs, striking out 43 and walking 29 in 521/3 innings.

But Wilson is just the ingredient the Angels think they need to end their two-year playoff drought. That they subtracted the ace from their division rival was a bonus.

“C.J. has been one of the premier starting pitchers in the American League over the last few years,” Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. “However that affects other teams … I can’t say that was a primary focus.”

Wilson’s deal includes a $2.5-million signing bonus, a full no-trade clause for two years and a partial no-trade clause, which allows him to be dealt to eight teams, in the final three years.

His annual salary will increase from $10 million in 2012 to $11 million in 2013 to $16 million in 2014 to $18 million in 2015 to $20 million in 2016.


“The idea of having the kind of pitching we already have and [improving] it is quite attractive,” Dipoto said. “I’m a believer in starters who throw a lot of innings, and if you can run out a quintet that gives you 1,000 innings [in a season], you’re in a good spot.”

The Angels also like that Wilson has been a starter for only two years, combining for 427 innings in 2010 and 2011 after throwing 2802/3 innings as a reliever from 2005 to 2009.

That low mileage, Manager Mike Scioscia thinks, makes a five-year deal for Wilson seem less risky than one for a pitcher who has started for seven years in the big leagues.

“I like the fact that this isn’t a guy who’s sitting on 1,300, 1,400 innings coming into a free-agent year, as opposed to a guy who has primarily been a starter,” Scioscia said. “Not that the bullpen doesn’t tax your arm, but I think he’s still fresh.”