The Angels are also pushing hard to get Wilson and could be the Rangers' biggest competition. The Marlins may have to drop out if they are able to sign Albert Pujols. The Nationals appear to have little interest in pursuing Wilson, and the Yankees seem to be sitting this one out.
"If we don't sign him, we would prefer him to be in the National League hitting doubles and running around the bases," Daniels said. "But our preference is to re-sign him. Everything is relative. We're trying to match up a few different options. C.J. will be a significant investment. It definitely effects our other options."
Wilson, at least at this point, is Texas' most immediate priority. On the trade front, the Rangers' big meeting on Tuesday was with the Orioles, who want reliever Koji Uehara back. But the Rangers are still looking to upgrade their bullpen and are reluctant to trade him.
The bullpen might become an even larger priority if they can't resign Wilson. The Rangers have shown some interest in free-agent starters Mark Buehrle and Roy Oswalt, but there appear to be some mixed feelings. The Rangers aren't completely convinced that Buehrle would be a significant improvement over what they currently have, especially if he is looking for a four-year deal.
"We spent a good portion of our afternoons walking through different options," Daniels said. "We're focused on getting better, and bringing [Wilson] back is one way of doing it. There are a couple of other guys were looking at. But it is a short list, and high on the list is going with the group we've got."
Length of contract is crucial in these matters, especially with Wilson. The Rangers have been reluctant to go beyond four years for starting pitching, although they were willing to go at least five or six years with Cliff Lee last winter. The Rangers haven't indicated if they are willing to go that far with Wilson.
"It's hard to say. It depends on how the contract is structured and what kind of money is involved," club president Nolan Ryan said. "It's hard to speculate without looking at it. If something is in our best interests, we'll look at it."
If the Angels are willing to go five years and beyond, they could end up with Wilson in their rotation.
"I think everyone is going to be different," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I do think that if you look at C.J. Wilson from a scouting standpoint, look at his stuff, I mean, his stuff is good. Where it's going to be in three or four years, I don't know. He's not quite as crisp as he was maybe three or four years ago. But I think what he does have going for him is, first, being left-handed.
"Soft lefties historically still have an opportunity to be successful ... when he starts to lose his stuff. So I think there are some positives he has going for him, and the fact that this isn't a guy that's sitting on 1,300, 1,400 innings coming into a free-agent year as opposed to a guy that really for two years has really just been primarily a starter. Not that the bullpen doesn't tax your arm, but I think he's still fresh."
Wilson made it clear on his Tuesday KESN 103.3 radio show that the length of contract is important to him as well.
"Some teams don't want to do longer than a three-year contract, and they're automatically out," Wilson said on the Ben & Skin Show. "Because if I'm getting long deals offered, that's good for me, because I like to have a place where I'm stable and I know where I'm going to be."
The Rangers still aren't sure when this will get resolved. Pujols may be the next big signing, but right now there hasn't been much in the way of activity here at the Winter Meetings.
"The sense I get in talking to different agent groups is as one guy put it, 'We haven't fallen in love yet,'" Daniels said. "When that happens, I don't know."
The Rangers are among the teams that have watched free-agent pitcher Joel Zumaya's workouts in Houston. The former hard-throwing Tigers reliever missed all of last season with elbow surgery.
The Rangers are looking at utility infielder candidates. Daniels hinted that Omar Vizquel might be a possibility.
The Rangers spent part of Tuesday getting briefed by Major League officials about the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Rangers have concerns about the limitations being placed on amateur signings, both international and in the Draft.