Update: According to Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, this NY Post report is not true quoting a source that said, “Nothing’s happening there yet.” Adding, “It sounds like a lot of BS being put out be the agent.”
The source also told Matthews that the Yankees haven’t made an offer to Lee either. Actually, Matthews was told that Lee’s agent doesn’t want any offers until the winter meetings.
Another note, so far we’ve really only heard that the Yankees and Rangers are the only teams seriously interested in Lee’s services, but Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated has heard that there may be other teams “laying in the weeds”. Though like the Post’s original report, that may just be an agent trying to drive up Lee’s price.
Original post: Via George King of the NY Post:
Armed with the belief the Yankees are willing to pay Cliff Lee $23 million a year, the Rangers are on the verge of making an official offer to retain the left-handed free-agent hurler.
According to a person with knowledge of Texas’ plans, the Rangers are not wary of going to five years in a contract offer for the 32-year-old Lee. Nevertheless, if Lee opts for the most money, the Rangers are not expected to top the Yankees, who the AL champions believe already have made a five- or six-year offer to Lee.
So we know the Rangers offer to Lee is expected to be a five-year deal, but we have no idea how much that offer is expected to be for. Like King wrote, the Yankees offer is believed to be at least $115 million and likely as much as $140 million.
The Rangers have admitted that they cannot match an offer made by the Yankees so it doesn’t appear that they are going to try. It might not be so smart, but at least they can avoid a bidding war which nobody but Lee and his agent will win. Instead their hope is that no state income tax and proximity to Lee’s home in Arkansas will come into play.
In the end though it’s all about the money. The Yankees are going to offer more money and no income tax in Texas is overrated as that only counts for home games. The Yankees also have Lee’s good friend in CC Sabathia and a fellow Arkansan A.J. Burnett with whom he can carpool with on their G6 jets.
The Rangers are looking to get an answer on Lee quickly with the winter meetings coming up next week. That way if they miss out on him they can move on to their backup plan which is expected to be Zack Greinke. The Yankees also would like to sign him quickly, but seem to have more faith that their dollars can lock him down.