UPDATE: C.J. Wilson likely to take five-year deal from Angels

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10:28 p.m. EST update: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says Wilson is expected to accept a five-year deal from the Angels. The Marlins offered six years, but the left-hander has apparently chosen to return to his native southern California instead.

10:05 p.m. EST update: C.J. Wilson has arrived at the winter meetings in Dallas and is expected to meet with both the Marlins and Angels before the night is out.

7:50 p.m. EST update: Mr. Ken Rosenthal begs to differ. His source is reporting that the Marlins are the “best bet” for Wilson, while the Angels are a close second. The Rangers appear to have fallen out of the mix.

It’s been reported all day that the Marlins are at six years with Wilson, while the belief is that the Angels only want to go five. Wilson, however, is a California native and may choose the Angels’ offer anyway.

6:40 p.m. EST update: The Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch reports that Wilson and the Angels are very close to finalizing a deal. No additional information was provided, but the Angels are believed to be at five years, rather than six. It could be in the same neighborhood as the five-year, $82.5 million contracts given to A.J. Burnett and John Lackey by the Yankees and Red Sox, respectively.

5:10 p.m. EST update: The Marlins’ signing of Mark Buehrle doesn’t necessarily take them out of the mix for Wilson. Jon Heyman reports that the Marlins are still involved in the bidding. Many others, however, believe that Wilson is quite a bit more likely to head to Anaheim.

4:05 p.m. EST update: FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi states that the Nationals are out on Wilson. The Rangers still seem to be in the mix, but it looks like the Marlins and Angels will be the higher bidders.

3:20 p.m. EST update: The Marlins have upped their offer to Wilson to six years, according to MLB Network’s Tom Verducci. However, Danny Knobler still labels the Angels as the clear favorites for the left-hander, who is believed to be seeking more than $15 million per year. A decision isn’t expected before late tonight, according to Knobler.

12:20 p.m. EST update: Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A.Times states that the Angels are “still very much a favorite” to sign Wilson and that they’re not one of the five teams in contention for Mark Buehrle.

12:15 p.m. EST update: A source tells ESPN’s Karl Ravech that the Marlins have gone to six years in their offer for Wilson. There’s good reason for skepticism about this one, though, as the Marlins are still waiting to see what Albert Pujols is going to do.

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MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports that the Angels have stepped up their efforts to sign C.J. Wilson and are hoping to get a deal done today.

If signed, Wilson would join Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in what could be the AL’s best rotation. Of course, that alone might not allow the Angels to overtake the Rangers. The Angels finished with the AL’s best ERA last season, yet were 10th in the league in runs scored and ended up a full 10 games behind Texas at 86-76.

If the Angels do want to upgrade their offense, we learned last night that they’re receiving calls on Santana.

Wilson went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA for Texas last season. He finished seventh in the AL in ERA and sixth with 206 strikeouts.

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”

NO FANS

The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.

CONFIDENT RAYS

Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.

CLOSE FRIENDS

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”