It's not over, but it might as well be over. I'm bracing for it to be over, you're bracing for it to be over, and the entire Rangers front-office hierarchy from Jon Daniels to Nolan Ryan is bracing for it to be over. It's also within the realm of possibility -- though probably less likely -- that the two people centered in this camera shot are bracing for it to be over, as well. Based on all of the information that we currently have at our disposal, this is going to be over at some point later this morning ... and the C.J. Wilson era will finally become part of the history books, as opposed to being extended into perpetuity.
As of early Thursday, the word filtering out of Dallas is that Wilson will agree to terms later this morning with the Angels on a five-year deal worth an undisclosed amount, and that the opportunity to suit up and pitch in his native Orange County will override the Marlins' more generous six-year offer. According to sources close to the situation (via FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi), the Rangers are "no longer a factor in the bidding," as they ultimately declined to extend Wilson anything greater than a four-year offer. One begins to suspect that Jon Heyman's much-attacked report of a four-year, $60 million offer coming out of the Rangers' camp actually wasn't so far off the mark, after all.
Remarked Jon Daniels to a small group of reporters on Wednesday night: "We met. I appreciate how Bob [Garber] has handled it and how C.J.'s handled it. And where we thought it was going to head is, basically, where it is heading. I haven't received a call saying he's chosen to go somewhere else, but we're prepared for that call."
Meanwhile, the Angels are going to be looking at a tentative starting rotation comprising Wilson, Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana, the last of whom is being speculated as a major trading chip through which they can more evenly distribute the talent on their roster while possibly saving a few bucks. They're also making a serious push at Albert Pujols, with word filtering out of the Angels organization that they can pay both Wilson and Pujols in what would amount to a total off-season commitment in excess of $300 million.
I do want to say something about this series of developments, and what my position will be in the event that the Angels actually do see their off-season plans through to completion: Yes, throwing absurd money at Pujols and Wilson could end up being a bad long-term play for more than a couple of different reasons. Yes, they might very well be subjecting themselves to the winner's curse in committing those kinds of resources to two players on the wrong side of 30. And no, those two additions may not be enough on their own to singlehandedly shift the balance of power in the AL West.
But from the standpoint of someone who's very much locked into a shorter-term mindset as a consequence of where the Rangers are competitively positioned right now, this is a troubling development. The Angels would be saddling themselves with untold gobs of long-term risk, but in the shorter run, the introduction of Wilson/Pujols -- or even Wilson by himself -- to Los Angeles smashes a perceptible dent into the Rangers' division-winning odds for 2012-13, and, selfishly or not, I'm sure as hell not prepared to watch Texas relegated to irrelevance in the month of October again.
Anything that diminishes those odds is something that even the brightest and most eternal Rangers optimists can admit to being concerned about ... and, ultimately, that's just about where I am right now. Concerned. Not scared, and certainly not unconfident in the Rangers' ability to respond to division-rocking changes on the fly, but concerned. I don't think anyone will begrudge me that.
Later this morning, Wilson will presumably ink his account-nourishing deal with the Angels, a new round of locally based wailing and gnashing of teeth will ensue, and Wilson will be branded as a defector, or as a materialistic, egocentric d-----bag too wrapped up in himself to focus to his fullest capacity during the post-season, or some other combination of pejoratives. The vitriol directed towards Wilson has been relatively (and alarmingly) thick over the last two months, and all indications seem to suggest that it's about to grow even thicker still.
I get why that's going to happen, and I certainly get why any one of us could, at this point, write the world's most well-measured and rational defense of Wilson, and watch it largely fall on deaf ears as a substantial portion of the fan base begins to view Wilson as not only a quitter, but also as a traitor. I get it.
But I don't have to like it. And I doubt I ever will like it.