Rangers meet with C.J. Wilson's agent

The Texas Rangers won't sit back and let the rival Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees dictate where free agent C.J. Wilson pitches next season.

Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine confirmed Wednesday that the club has "real" interest in re-signing Wilson, who won 30 games in his first two seasons as a starter and is the top free-agent pitcher on the market.

Levine met with Wilson's agent, Bob Garber, Tuesday night in Milwaukee, site of Major League Baseball's general manager meetings.

Angels GM Jerry DiPoto met with Garber on Monday night and expressed serious interest in Wilson, a native of Southern California. Yankees GM Brian Cashman also has met with Garber in Milwaukee.

If it initially seemed that the Rangers were prepared to see their former draft pick walk, it now appears they will be in the middle of the fight to keep their No. 1 starter.

Garber said no offers have been made, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and that he and Wilson's plan is to narrow his options before negotiations turn more serious leading up to the winter meetings on Dec. 5-8 in Dallas.

"They showed significant interest in trying to bring C.J. back and are willing to treat him as any other team would in the free-agent process," Garber told the Star-Telegram. "They're going to be more aggressive than I thought. I assumed they were going to sit on the back burner. Now, it seems like they're putting him on the front burner."

The Rangers also are considering adding closer Neftali Feliz into the rotation, a move that didn't pan out last season early in spring training. Manager Ron Washington indicated that a plan for Feliz will come clearer once they know which direction Wilson is leaning.

Washington said during Wednesday's appearance on the "Ben and Skin Show" on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM that Wilson, who inherited ace responsibilities when Cliff Lee signed with Philadelphia last winter, carried the team at times in 2011 and he hopes the quirky lefty will be back.

"He's at the point where he can look around and see what's best for him and I think we want to give him that opportunity," Washington said. "I also know that he knows how important we think he is to us. But that decision is up to C.J. Wilson, and I do think (Rangers CEO) Nolan Ryan, (general manager) Jon Daniels and me included are going to do the best that we can to see if we can keep C.J. in the fold.

"But in the end, that decision is really up to C.J."

Jeff Caplan covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.