Update 5:54: Various sources confirm that the Yankees have made an offer for Cliff Lee. His agent has left the winter meetings. Presumably they are mulling offers. Jack Curry of the YES Network guesses that the Yankees offer is about six-years and $140 million.
Update 3:11: Jerry Crasnick of ESPN is reporting that Cliff Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, has left the winter meetings. Also, Jon Heyman was just on the MLB Network and said that it doesn’t appear that the Yankees have actually made a formal offer for Lee.
So…yeah. A productive week.
Update: Buster Olney of ESPN confirms that the Baltimore Orioles are not out there lurking with a big deal for Lee.
Original post: Yesterday we heard a lot of wild rumors about free agent Cliff Lee. Most of those rumors were fueled by Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated who has a reputation of passing along rumors from agents without any filter at all. Meaning, he reports what they want him to report in order to drive up the price of the players.
But is he just some agent’s lackey in a game to try to up the Yankees bid? Here is an honest look at the situation from Joel Sherman of the NY Post who usually has some good contacts himself:
So could there be a mystery team to upset the expected Yankees-Ranger showdown? I thought maybe it could be the Cubs, but was told they are not serious pursuers. Could the Angels turn to Lee rather than Carl Crawford and then use high-end starting pitching (Dan Haren? Jered Weaver?) to obtain offense in a trade? Angels general manager Tony Reagins told the Los Angeles Times that his club is not offering seven years. There was some buzz about the Brewers, but these dollars seem beyond their means.
Maybe it really is the Nationals. One executive told me Washington’s spending urge is being fueled by a perfect storm of an 85-year-old owner (Ted Lerner) who wants to win now and his son (Mark), who aggressively wants to make a name for himself and the franchise. As an NL executive said, “Once you give Jayson Werth seven years all bets are off for what you will do next.”
The thing is though that the Nationals have denied this and seem to have serious interest in other free agents, specifically Carl Pavano among others. They were very aggressive to get a deal done with Jayson Werth so it seems confusing to me that they wouldn’t be equally as aggressive.
It also brings up the question, even if there is a team willing to offer Lee a seven-year deal if the Yankees are willing to give him more money per year does that even matter? It’s doubtful.
At this point it seems as if most of yesterday’s rumors were out of the mouth of an agent trying to get his player top dollar and the most years. Even if the myth of a seven-year deal is real, the Yankees could still very well offer more money per year and a greater overall during the life of the contract.