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Thanks to NBC Philadelphia, you can watch the opening statement of Wednesday's Cliff Lee press conference, when the Philadelphia Phillies officially introduced their new pitcher, whom they signed to a five-year deal earlier this week.
Lee admits that "it's been a whirlwind couple of years for me" and that "this offseason's been full of unknowns." One unknown was wether or not Lee and fellow free agent Jayson Werth would be playing together again. According to Lee, they were talking this winter, possibly with intentions of signing with the same team: "When [Werth] found out I was coming [to Philadelphia], he wasn't the happiest person in the world is all I'll say."
Amaro was asked whether if Jayson Werth accepted the contract he was offered, whether it would have precluded their signing of Lee? "Not to slight our former right fielder but we believed this would have a greater impact. I believe in pitching and defense and if this was a choice, then I'm pretty comfortable with the decision we made"
Werth, who spent the past four seasons with the Phillies, signed with the Washington Nationals early last week,
For Lee though, it was all about Philadelphia. "From the moment I got here, I knew it was something special ... I never wanted to leave in the first place."
Cliff Lee put on the pinstripes of the Philadelphia Phillies (again) on Wednesday as the team officially welcomed back the pitcher with a press conference.
Lee, who earlier this week signed a five-year contract worth at least $120, donned his new No. 33 jersey while being introduced by Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro. (Roy Halladay wears Lee's normal No. 34, so Lee opted for the same number he had while with the Texas Rangers.)
Lee spoke on the decision to return, and why he ultimately picked the Phillies over his other main suitors, the Yankees and Rangers, saying that "I knew it was something special [in Philadelphia]."
I want to win championships. this team gives me the best chance to do that." ...
I prefer National League baseball over the American style of baseball," said Lee. "I like to hit. I like to face the other pitcher instead of the DH."
Lee also commented on the report that a main reason he chose not to sign with the Yankees was because of the way his wife was treated at Yankee Stadium during the playoffs, including an incident during which she was reportedly spit on. The pitcher said that not only did it not factor in his decision, but that it wasn't even true.
"No one came up and spit on her. No one poured anythong on her. That stoy was way overblown. It had zero to do with me coming here. It was a non-issue."
Ultimately, for Lee, the appeal of Philadelphia, and its fans, was simply too strong.
"The intensity you can feel when you get in the game. Every game has an excitement to it. I don't know what the fans do to create that much more volume and excitement but there's something extra here. They don't need the teleprompter to tell them to get excited. The feeling of playing on the field feels different than anywhere else."
Lee added near the end: "Hopefully this is where I end my career."
Cliff Lee will be introduced as a member of the Phillies (again) at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Lee officially signed his five-year, $120 million contract with the Phillies earlier in the day on Wednesday after passing his physical.
Lee will be wearing a different number on his introductory jersey than his first time around in Philly, opting to go with No. 33. He wore 34 with the Phillies previously, but that number is now used by Roy Halladay. Lee used No. 33 with the Rangers last season.
With Lee joining the Phillies’ rotation, they now have one of the best starting rotations of all time. The combined ERA of their rotation was 3.17 in 2010, with Lee and Roy Oswalt leading the A.L. and N.L. in WHIP.
For more on the press conference and signing, head to SB Nation’s The Good Phight.
All right, so Cliff Lee has signed with the Phillies. He's signed a contract worth at least $120 million over five years, and as much as $135 million over six. That's the news that's shaken up the entire baseball world over the past 16 hours.
But you'll notice that the contract isn't yet official. And that's because Lee still has to undergo the standard physical examination to make sure nothing's wrong with his body. And while there's no reason to believe there's anything wrong with his body, the Phillies are currently scheduled to make sure Wednesday morning.
It is only after the physical is complete that the Phillies can make everything official and hold a press conference, and said conference is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. So for those of you who, for whatever reason, are panicking, be patient. It'll just be another day.
While Lee wore number 34 with the Phillies in 2009, he will be given number 33 at the press conference - the same number he wore last season with the Rangers.
It came as a complete and utter shock when word got out that Cliff Lee was going back to Philadelphia. Everyone figured he'd end up in Texas or New York, and the Phillies weren't even on the public radar Sunday night.
One of the reasons given for Lee's final decision credits his wife, Kristen, who allegedly isn't a fan of New York and rather loves the city of Philadelphia. Another reason given is that Lee himself absolutely loved his experience with the team. But, in truth, it isn't that simple or wholesome. According to T.R. Sullivan, Lee and agent Darek Braunecker gave the Rangers a final chance before deciding on the Phillies.
Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg and general manager Jon Daniels told the media that, before Lee made his decision, he and his agent proposed a seven-year contract that could've brought Lee back to Texas. While financial details aren't known, the Rangers say they were uncomfortable with the length, as they didn't want to guarantee a 32-year-old pitcher a seven-year deal.
Had the Rangers okayed it, the story now would be far different. Instead, they declined, and Lee's returning to another former team of his instead.
We already knew that Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies. That's why you're reading this stream in the first place. But what's new is that we now have a more complete picture of his contract, as more details have continued to emerge.
As noted previously, Lee's deal is worth at least $120 million over five years, and could be worth as much as $135 million over six years. The final figure hinges on a $27.5 million vesting 2016 option with a $12.5 million buyout. And, that vesting option? Jon Heyman has word.
Lee's 2016 option will vest if he throws at least 200 innings in 2015, or if he throws at least 400 innings between 2014-2015. If he does that, he'll make his $135 million. If not, the Phillies will probably opt for the buyout, although it's impossible to say right now.
2014 and 2015 are a long ways away, but Lee has thrown 667.1 innings over the past three seasons, and has surpassed the 200-inning mark five times in his career. He's a durable, efficient innings-eater, and at least for now, that vesting option certain seems attainable.
Lee also receives a partial no-trade clause.
Late Monday night, the Phillies signed Cliff Lee to a five-year deal, shocking the baseball world. And while we have to wait until April to see how this move works out for Philadelphia (spoiler: it's probably a pretty good move), we can already see its effect in Las Vegas.
According to Bodog, the Phillies are now 7/2 favorites to win the 2011 World Series, followed closely by the Boston Red Sox, the offseason's other big winner, at 5/1.
Odds to win 2011 World Series:
- Phillies 7/2
- Red Sox 5/1
- Yankees 6/1
- Giants 12/1
- Cardinals 18/1
- Twins 18/1
- Braves 20/1
- Reds 20/1
- Rockies 20/1
- Rays 20/1
- Rangers 20/1
The worst odds, forever and always, belong to the Pittsburgh Pirates, at 150/1.
Additionally, Bodog has set the O/U on number of wins in 2011 for the Phillies at 96. The Phillies have won more than 96 games just four times in their franchise's 128-year history, including 2010, when they went 97-65.
Cliff Lee deciding to sign with the Phillies late Monday night came as a surprise to much of the baseball world. Many expected him to join the Yankees, who offered him a six-year, $132 million contract. So why didn’t he go to New York? According to Phillies beat writer Randy Miller, it was in large part because Lee’s wife, Kristen, doesn’t like the Big Apple (via The 700 Level):
A good source tells me that Cliff Lee’’s wife is the main reason he didn’t sign with Yankees. She wanted NO PART of New York, i was told. […] Apparently incident with Lee’s wife had last fall with Yankees fans wasn’t forgotten. Besides that, she’s not fond of NY. She LOVES Philly.
The “incident” referenced occurred during the postseason, when Yankees fans allegedly were spitting on Lee’s wife while the Rangers were playing in New York. That, combined with the fact the Phillies fans showed overwhelming support for Lee his first time around with Philly, seems to have helped sway Cliff to re-join the Fightins.
The Philadelphia Phillies have signed Cliff Lee to a five-year deal, giving them one of baseball's best starting rotations (though the San Francisco Giants may have something to say). It also reunites the Phils with Lee, almost one year to the day (Dec. 15, 2009) that they traded the pitcher to the Seattle Mariners for J. C. Ramírez, Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies.
Lee originally came to Philadelphia in 2009 -- again, via a trade -- when the Cleveland Indians shipped him off at the deadline. In his first ever start with the Phillies, Lee thew a compete game in a 5-1 victory (and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning). In his first five starts he allowed just three earned runs in 40 innings pitched.
He eventually came back to Earth a bit (Lee allowed six earned runs or more in three of his final seven starts), but finished the 2009 regular season with a 7-4 record for the Phillies, while putting up a 3.39 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 79.2 innings (compared to just 10 walks).
But then the playoffs came and that's where Lee truly shined. Pitching in his first ever postseason, Lee went 4-0 in five starts, with two complete games (his shortest outing was 7.1 innings). He finished with a 1.56 ERA and struck out 33 while just six walks and seven earned runs in 40.1 innings.
Ever more good news for Phillies fans: Lee is 5-1 in eight career starts against N.L. East teams, with a 3.24 ERA.
Grounders can be a pitcher's best friend.
As Philadelphia wakes up Tuesday morning to the news that the Phillies have signed Cliff Lee to a five year deal, we can except a certain level of "OHMYGOD!"
After all, the Phillies will boast a rotation in 2011 that includes Lee, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels; put another away: the MLB leader in WAR, the NL WHIP leader, the 2010 NL Cy Young Award winner and the best lefty ERA in the second half of 2010, respectively. It doesn't matter too much who the fifth starter (especially when/if the Phillies get in the postseason), but it will likely not be Joe Blanton.
Blanton, who made 28 starts for Philadelphia in 2010, is apparently on his way out in a move designed to dump some salary. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman is reporting that the Phillies have "a deal in place" to ship Blanton to the Boston Red Sox (Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted earlier Tuesday morning that the "Phillies were deep in discussions yesterday about sending Blanton to RedSox").
Blanton, a 30-year-old right-handed pitcher, was 9-6 with a 4.82 ERA in 2010. More importantly though, from a Phillies' perspective, is the fact he still has two years remaining on his contract, worth $8.5 million in both 2011 and '12.
A move to Boston would be surprising -- not only have they already taken on a lot of salary this offseason in the form of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, but they also already have starting pitchers Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett, with Tim Wakefield still under contract.
So Cliff Lee has signed with the Phillies, and the entire baseball world has gone insane - not only because Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies out of nowhere, but because Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies out of nowhere at midnight ET.
Earlier Monday night, it was reported that Lee's five-year contract with the Phillies is worth about $100 million. Now we have some more accurate details, and we can compare between the offers laid out by the Rangers, Yankees, and Phillies.
According to Jerry Crasnick, Lee's deal with the Phillies is worth a guaranteed $120 million over five years, with a vesting sixth-year option.
Also according to Crasnick, the Yankees' best offer was $132 million over six years, with a $16 million vesting seventh-year option.
And finally, from Jon Morosi, the Rangers' best offer was $138 million over six years, with a $23 million vesting seventh-year option.
All of them offered Lee about $22-24 million over the next five seasons, and while a big storyline so far is that Lee left a lot of money on the table, in the end, it turns out that he both did and didn't. In terms of average annual value, he didn't sacrifice anything, but what he did give up by signing with Philadelphia was a shot at a seventh year.
As part of his contract, Lee will receive a partial no-trade clause. Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley also have full or partial no-trade clauses.
Update: from Ken Rosenthal, we get that Lee's contract has a maximum value of $135 million over six years, with a $27.5 million vesting sixth-year option and a $12.5 million buyout. So it's a max of $135 million, and a minimum of $120 million.
In a breathtakingly stunning turn of events, Cliff Lee has signed with the Phillies, turning down both the Rangers and the Yankees. Immediately, once news of the signing broke, it was figured that Lee was leaving a lot of money on the table to return to Philadelphia. How much money? Now that we have some details, we can start to figure it out.
According to Joel Sherman, Lee's five-year contract with the Phillies is worth somewhere around $100 million. Additionally, via Jerry Crasnick, we find out that there's a sixth-year vesting option that should be "easily reachable". Lee, clearly, is getting a mammoth contract. But it's not quite the $154 million over seven years he stood to get from the Yankees, so he's still making a considerable sacrifice.
The contract apparently came together in a hurry, and once it was agreed to, Lee and agent Darek Braunecker personally informed the Rangers and Yankees of their decision. What's yet to figure out - aside from where the Rangers and Yankees go from here - is what the Phillies intend to do about payroll. From Roy Halladay to Ryan Howard to Chase Utley to Raul Ibanez to Brad Lidge to Jimmy Rollins to Shane Victorino to Joe Blanton to Cole Hamels, and so on, there are a lot of big-money players already in-house, and only time will tell whether the Phillies are able to shed some salary, or if they simply increase the budget to accommodate their new acquisition. It's also possible that they'll backload Lee's contract, as they have a lot of money coming off the books after the 2011 season.
It isn't going to be an easy situation for the Phillies to figure out. But as problems go, this is a rather pleasant one.
Monday night, we have word of a resolution to the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. And after so many months of assumptions that Lee would either re-sign with the Rangers or go to the Yankees, the 32-year-old free agent ace southpaw is instead signing with the Phillies, who emerged as a late contender.
T.R. Sullivan was the first with the news, and it has since been confirmed by Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman. The Rangers and Yankees now have to look for alternatives elsewhere. The Rangers could turn to Matt Garza or Zack Greinke, while the Yankees may simply focus on addressing their bench and their bullpen.
But the big story here is the Phillies, who have locked Cliff Lee up to a five-year contract after never being taken seriously as contenders until late Monday. It's unclear exactly how they intend to fit Lee into their budget, and they may simply increase payroll to make room, but what matters is that an agreement is in place. No matter how it works out, next season's Phillies will sport a starting rotation of Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and someone else. It's a rotation that has the potential to be the best starting rotation in modern baseball history.
The Yankees' final contract offer to Lee was worth a total of $154 million, and he will be leaving a lot of money on the table. Lee, however, loved his time in Philadelphia in 2009, and is now in excellent position to win the first World Series ring of his career.
Just an absolute shocker of a move that changes the AL - and NL - landscape completely. Be sure to check out The Good Phight for a lot more on the story.
Just when it looked like the Cliff Lee sweepstakes were nearing a resolution, a wrench has been thrown into the mix - the Phillies have emerged as a Lee contender. A resolution is still close, but the issue now is far more complicated than it was when we all figured it would come down to Texas or New York.
Ever since the initial report came out naming the Phillies as the mystery team in the Lee negotiations, public statements from baseball people have taken them more and more seriously. Jack Curry notes a belief that Lee will return to Philadelphia. Jon Heyman pegs the Phillies as a "strong candidate". Even though the Phillies can't offer a contract that matches up with those offered by the Yankees and Rangers, Lee so enjoyed his time in Philadelphia that they're being given a chance.
Some choice Lee quotes on his time with the Phillies:
"I loved it there. All my teammates, coaches, the whole situation. I couldn’t have been any more happy."
"I enjoyed my time there. I had as much fun playing baseball there as I ever have in my whole life. So that’s how strongly I feel about it. It was an unbelievable situation, it was a lot of fun, and I loved everything about it.”
If Lee does end up signing with Philadelphia, he will be leaving a lot of money on the table. However, by joining a team with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, he'd be putting himself in excellent position to win his first World Series ring.
Heyman says that a Lee decision could come as early as Tuesday. Safe to say he has a little more to think about than he might've thought he would.
The Cliff Lee negotiations are approaching the end, and the teams involved - and all the rest of us - are awaiting a resolution. The Rangers have made their best offer, the Yankees have made their best offer, and while there have been whispers that a mystery team was involved, by and large that team was written off, and it was assumed that Lee would pick between Texas and New York.
Only, not so fast. According to Ken Rosenthal, that mystery team can't be written off quite yet, as that mystery team is none other than the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies, of course, were Lee's team down the stretch in 2009, and the team with which he reached his first postseason and World Series. Lee quite enjoyed his time in Philadelphia, and it would appear the feeling is mutual, as the Phillies are trying to figure out a way to swing a return.
For what it's worth, the Phillies aren't to be considered favorites or anything. They're a long shot, and as Rosenthal writes:
Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock, when asked about Lee in early December, told Sirius XM’s and FOX Sports’ Jim Bowden, “That ship has sailed.”
It would take something of a budgetary miracle to fit Lee in, and the team would have to unload some payroll, presumably (in part) in the form of Joe Blanton. But there's no telling just how a team will act when it has a chance to sign a superstar, and you can't blame the Phillies for getting excited at the prospect of a Lee/Roy Halladay/Roy Oswalt/Cole Hamels front four in the starting rotation.
The best bets in this race remain the Rangers and the Yankees. But they aren't the only bets. The Phillies have a fighting chance.
The whole world right now is waiting on Cliff Lee to pick his destination. Some want him to pick Texas, some want him to pick New York, and everyone wants him to make his pick soon.
On this Monday morning, there are some possible indications that Lee is looking to New York. For one thing, according to Buster Olney, Lee's agent Darek Braunecker has been in contact with the Yankees today. For another - also from Olney - the Rangers may be moving quickly on Adrian Beltre as a fallback plan. It isn't much to go on, but it's something.
As far as reports that there's a third team in the mix are concerned, George King reports that the mystery team is only willing to offer a four- or five-year contract. If true, then the mystery team isn't a contender, and Lee will indeed sign with one of the two favorites.
A decision is expected to come early this week - possibly as soon as Monday night.
Right now, the entire baseball world is waiting on Cliff Lee to make his decision. The Rangers have offered Lee a bunch of different deals, with one reportedly being for six years with a seventh-year option. The Yankees, meanwhile, offered Lee a seven-year contract worth something in the neighborhood of $160 million. It seems to be only a matter of time now before baseball's best lefty settles on a destination.
Lest one believe that the sweepstakes may only intensify still, that doesn't appear to be a possibility. The Rangers have maxed themselves out, going as high as they're willing to go, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the New York Post that he will not increase his offer. What Lee sees now is the most he's ever going to see, which should make the decision-making process a little less complicated.
For what it's worth, Jon Heyman reports that there may still be a third team in the mix. All anyone's ever talked about is Cliff Lee joining the Rangers or the Yankees, but we just consistently keep on hearing that there may be another team involved - possibly the Angels. It's something to keep in mind, as Lee going to Texas or New York might not be an absolute guarantee.
The Rangers don't expect Lee to give an answer until Monday. Manager Ron Washington says that his "gut feeling" is that Lee returns, but he and Lee haven't been in contact.
The Cliff Lee negotiations are thought to be winding down, as the Yankees have made Lee a seven-year offer, while on Thursday the Rangers made Lee a "menu" of offers. The decision now rests in Lee's hands, as it's believed that both New York and Texas have gone as high as they're willing to go.
That the Yankees went to seven years - at a high price - seems to put them well in the lead. And indeed, that's the consensus opinion around baseball. However, in a report from Jon Heyman, word's out that one of the Rangers' offers to Lee could be a guaranteed six-year contract with a seventh-year option, which would at least put them in the same neighborhood as New York. While the Yankees have offered Lee one more guaranteed year with more guaranteed money, the difference between the two is not so great that it's impossible to see Lee returning to Texas.
As has been the case all along, the Rangers hope that their proximity to Lee's home in Arkansas could sway him towards accepting a lower offer. Such a decision would historically be rare for a free agent, but everybody is different, and we don't have any insight into Lee's thought processes.
Interestingly, towards the end of his article Heyman notes that a third team is believed to be in the mix, and it might be the Angels, who missed out on top priority Carl Crawford earlier in the week. The third team, though, isn't thought to be a strong contender.
It's unclear who the Yankees' Plan B would be in the event that Lee signs with Texas.
Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg called a press conference to announce the team has presented pitcher Cliff Lee a “menu of multiple offers” and that the offers were “competitive in the market place.” Greenberg said the ball is now in Lee’s court, which is either a basketball or foursquare metaphor.
There’s been no word on Lee’s reaction to what he saw on the menu. Nor do we know what may have been a part of the menu, or how many options it included. Greenberg did not reveal any financials. The popular speculation is that the Rangers are willing to offer six years, but not seven, though there’s no word on that either. I’m sorry to have so little to share.
Team reps Greenberg and assistant general manager Thad Levine met with Lee and his agent Darek Braunecker in his Arkansas home to discuss his future. The New York Yankees have made a seven-year offer.
On Thursday, representatives for the Texas Rangers will fly to Arkansas to meet Cliff Lee at his home and talk about his free agency. Hot in pursuit, the Yankees are rumored to have offered Lee a seven-year contract, and at this point the Rangers are just trying to keep up. And according to T.R. Sullivan, the Rangers expect to find out whether they can sign Lee back by Thursday night.
Lee and agent Darek Braunecker will meet with Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg and assistant general manager Thad Levine. It has been reported that the Rangers have increased their offer to Lee from five years to six, but are extremely reluctant to go as long as seven. For that reason, the Yankees are considered the heavy favorites to end up with the lefty ace, who could prefer the Yankees' larger contract over the Rangers' proximity to his family and home.
One way or another, it seems that the Lee negotiations are approaching a resolution. Either the Yankees will pair Lee with CC Sabathia at the top of their rotation, or Lee will return to Texas and the Yankees will be left searching desperately for impact alternatives.
Wednesday afternoon, Cliff Lee's agent Darek Braunecker left the Winter Meetings, but not before the Yankees offered Lee a "monster" contract. Then, Wednesday night, the Yankees lost their Plan B when Carl Crawford signed with the Red Sox. So, in response, the Yankees upped their offer to Lee to seven years.
The Yankees' seven-year offer, for what it's worth, does not have the same annual value as the six-year offer they made first. It's believed that the "monster" contract was for six years and $140 million. This new contract is probably for seven years and around $150-160 million. But that extra year is important to Lee, and the offer has spurred the Rangers into action.
Representatives for the Rangers are flying to Lee's Arkansas home and, according to Ken Rosenthal, the team is going to extend their offer to Lee beyond the five years they had offered before. The Rangers have been reluctant to take Lee longer than five, but at this point they don't have a choice if they want him to re-sign, as the Yankees' offer is just too big to turn down otherwise.
It's expected that the Rangers will offer Lee six years, rather than trying to match the Yankees' seven. At that point, Lee would have to decide between playing in New York for more money and more years, or playing closer to home for less. A resolution is predicted to come before the end of the weekend.
The Cliff Lee negotiations are speeding up now. On Wednesday, we learned that the Yankees made their first contract offer. Lee and agent Darek Braunecker left the Winter Meetings soon thereafter, suggesting that no deal was imminent, but now we have word on Thursday that the Yankees have extended their offer to seven years.
It's a huge step. Lee reportedly already had seven-year offers on the table, but not from either New York or Texas, who have been reluctant to even go to six. The Yankees, though, have stepped up their game after Plan B free agent Carl Crawford signed with the Red Sox. At this point, the Yankees have to get Lee, because their fallback options aren't very good. They can't sign Crawford. They can't sign Werth. They won't want Carl Pavano. Zack Greinke won't want to pitch in New York. Tampa Bay won't want to trade Matt Garza within the division. Signing Lee becomes almost necessary, and so going to seven years, in turn, because necessary as well.
Not giving up, the Rangers are again flying to Lee's home in Arkansas to meet face-to-face. The Rangers want Lee back something terrible and want to know what it will take to sign him. But one has to figure that the Yankees are now the overwhelming favorites. With the Rangers hesitant to go to six years while the Yankees have gone to seven, Lee appears to be bound for New York.
If Lee does sign with the Yankees, expect the Rangers to turn their attention to Greinke and/or Garza.
On Wednesday, Cliff Lee received his first contract offer from the Yankees. The offer is thought to be six years long and worth between $137-150 million - a very substantial offer that may win Lee's services outright.
Lee's agent Darek Braunecker then left the Winter Meetings, suggesting that no agreement was upcoming, but now, according to Ken Rosenthal, a decision is coming soon. How soon? As Rosenthal writes, Lee is set to make his decision by the end of the weekend.
The Yankees are locked in a battle with the Rangers and a few other mystery teams for Lee's services, and for the Rangers' part, they've asked Lee's agent to be informed of what it would take to re-sign the lefty ace. Texas isn't about to let Lee go without a fight. But with Lee's choice apparently coming shortly, the Rangers will have to make their best offer, and as they likely can't compete with New York's money, they'll have to count on Lee's wanting to play closer to his Arkansas home to make up the difference.
Other teams are involved in the sweepstakes, but face lesser odds. Stay tuned, as this promises to be an exciting finish.
Braunecker may return before the meetings end on Thursday, but he wouldn't have left if anything were imminent. The act of leaving conveys little sense of urgency.
One thing we can say for sure is that, before Braunecker left, the Yankees made Lee an offer. Given earlier reports that the Yankees were preparing a "monster" contract, we can say with a fair degree of certainty that this offer - their first for Lee - is a big one. Lee is thought to already have a pair of seven-year contract offers on the table from other teams, and the Yankees have little reason to mess around. They want to get Lee signed, and they want to sign him soon.
It's evident that Lee will not be signing with anyone before the end of the meetings. With all these contracts out there from different suitors, though, we could have a resolution within a couple weeks.
The Cliff Lee negotiations have been both interesting and slow to progress. He's reportedly received a pair of seven-year contract offers from a couple of mystery teams, while the Yankees have grown frustrated with the deliberate pace of it all.
Heyman expects the Yankees to offer Lee a six-year contract worth close to $25 million per season. While the Yankees are unwilling to go as long as seven, they have the ability to blow everyone else out of the water when it comes to money, and it looks like they could be taking advantage of that fact. If Lee has to choose between a few seven-year offers, a five- or six-year offer from the Rangers, and a six-year offer from the Yankees, and the six-year offer is this pricey, it would be easy to see him choosing New York.
As unlikely as it's seemed recently, it's possible that Lee could even sign soon. Agent Darek Braunecker has said that one team (not the Rangers) recently dropped out of the negotiations, and that he and Lee have "zeroed in on a few things." They're going to spend all day Wednesday in discussions with different teams, and will soon meet with Texas.
The sweepstakes for free agent Cliff Lee continue to develop. The ace lefty reportedly has two seven-year contract offers out there from a pair of unknown teams, and on top of that, the Yankees are preparing to make an initial offer of their own.
The action has built, and with so many teams apparently paying attention, Jerry Crasnick quotes one source as saying it's doubtful that Lee signs a contract before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday. There had been some thought that Lee could end up agreeing to a deal this week, but unless the Rangers or Yankees come in with an offer that absolutely blows everyone away, we can expect the negotiations to continue for a good while yet.
One new team to the circus is the Angels, who checked in with Lee and agent Darek Braunecker on Tuesday and who will remain in touch. The Angels have now been linked to Lee, Adrian Beltre, Carl Crawford, and Rafael Soriano - four of the best free agents on the market. They're going to spend big money; the only question is who gets it.
And one team who may be out of it is the Nationals. Jon Heyman wrote rather matter-of-factly that the Nationals "are not in on Cliff Lee," and that's a pretty strong statement.
Tuesday afternoon, it was reported that free agent ace Cliff Lee had already received two seven-year contract offers from two mystery suitors. It was also reported that the Yankees were growing frustrated with the slow progression of their talks with Lee. Put those together, and what you get is that the Yankees probably have yet to make Lee a formal offer, and sure enough, Andrew Marchand confirms that fact.
Via ESPN New York, the Yankees are only now preparing to make their first contract offer to Lee. This comes despite weeks-old reports that the Yankees had offered a significant contract. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is just "waiting for the green light" from Lee's agent Darek Braunecker, at which point he will proceed.
As Marchand writes, the Yankees remain insistent on limiting any Lee contract to six years in length, with a possible annual value of as much as $25 million. They're expected to be in it to the end, along with the Rangers, but these mysterious seven-year contract offers have the potential to make this race very interesting.
The Cliff Lee sweepstakes were supposed to come down to the Texas Rangers versus the New York Yankees. And, who knows - maybe they will, or maybe they already have. But a new report from Jon Heyman suggests that we could have a major twist.
According to Heyman, Lee has received not one, but two contract offers that are seven years in length and worth at least $20 million per season. This is interesting, because his two primary suitors in Texas and New York have recently expressed an unwillingness to go as long as seven, preferring to limit things to five or six. It's possible that the Rangers and/or the Yankees have secretly gotten more bold, but it's also possible that we're dealing with a pair of mystery teams.
One notes that Lee met with Mike Rizzo and the Nationals on Tuesday. The Nationals may have gone ahead and made a huge offer.
Lee, of course, won't automatically accept the biggest offer he gets, and no matter where these offers came from, one must still consider the Rangers and Yankees the favorites. But it would definitely be wild if another team came out of nowhere to steal him away.
The Cliff Lee sweepstakes were expected to heat up during the MLB Winter Meetings, but there hasn't yet been much progress. However, according to Jon Heyman, that all may be changing, as Heyman is reporting that Lee has received a seven-year contract offer worth $20-25 million per year. The offer isn't from the Nationals, and so far the Rangers and Yankees have said that they're capping themselves at six, so we're left with three possibilities:
(1) Heyman's report is incorrect
(2) the Rangers and/or the Yankees have changed their mind
(3) There is a mystery team out there throwing around big money
For the Yankees part, Ken Rosenthal says they're actually growing frustrated at the slow pace of the Lee talks. The Yankees are ready to make a deal, but Lee and agent Darek Braunecker are drawing things out, and no deal seems imminent.
With Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera both re-signed, Lee is the Yankees' top offseason priority, and they would like to know one way or another what's going to happen before they move on to other options.
Veteran lefty Cliff Lee is the jewel of the free agent market, by far the best pitcher available. It's expected that his services will be determined by a bidding war between the Rangers and the Yankees, as the Rangers want to re-sign the ace who helped carry them to the World Series, and the Yankees want a guy to put at the top of their rotation with CC Sabathia.
Early Tuesday, however, there was a report that the Washington Nationals might be preparing a huge offer for Lee. The Nationals have already thrown crazy money at Jayson Werth, and there was a rumor they might be willing to offer Lee a seven-year contract - longer than the expected contract offers from Texas and New York.
But leave it to Adam Kilgore to shoot those rumors down. Says Kilgore:
Well, even with the Nationals ready spend, spend, spend, don't get too excited about Lee in Washington.
"Not happening," one Nationals source said.
"Zero chance," said another.
Kilgore doesn't rule the Nationals out of the Lee sweepstakes entirely, but he does confirm that they won't offer a seven-year contract unless things drastically change. And if the Nationals don't offer Lee a seven-year contract, it's hard to see how they could ever end up with him with such fierce and more desirable competition in the other league.
Cliff Lee is one of the most coveted prizes of the 2010 off-season, and a somewhat surprising suitor has reportedly come forth. The Washington Nationals, says ESPN's Buster Olney, are prepared to present a "huge" offer to the left-handed starter.
There is a growing speculation among rival agents and executives that the Washington Nationals are going to throw a HUGE number at Cliff Lee
The Nationals have already made their presence known this off-season, having just wrapped up slugger Jayson Werth to a long-term deal. SB Nation DC is pleasantly surprised:
This would truly be shocking. It's unclear what a "HUGE" number would be, but after the Werth deal, you never know. Lee is reportedly likely to get a seven-year contract from some team, though most are only willing to offer six years. If the Nationals are that mystery team (as SI's Jon Heyman reports), then you'd have to think Lee would cost more than the $126 million Werth got from the Nationals. Otherwise, are we talking about a contract for longer than seven years? It's kind of staggering to think about this.
Yes, it is staggering. If a rotation packs a one-two punch of Lee, a lefty who turns 32 in August, and right-hander Stephen Strasburg, for as long as seven years, it might just be enough to transform a perennial cellar-dweller into a contender.
For more, check in with our Washington Nationals blog, Federal Baseball.
The talk surrounding free agent lefty Cliff Lee continues to build. Initially, it was expected that the Rangers would offer him a five-year contract, while the Yankees would go six. Then it was reported that Lee would re-sign with the Rangers if they offered him six guaranteed years. Now, according to Ken Rosenthal, things may be reaching another level once more.
Lee, the prized free-agent left-hander, will receive a seven-year offer, according to major-league sources.
What's unclear is just who would be willing to make such an offer. Rosenthal says that one team has "expressed a willingness" to go to seven years, but he also says that, barring surprise, it won't be the Yankees. And the Rangers are reportedly reluctant to go longer than five.
So we're left considering the possibility that there's a mystery team involved - a team who would have to make a larger offer to sway Lee away from his two preferred destinations. Either that, or the Rangers and/or Yankees have been misleading us for a while, now. Or, you know, Rosenthal could just be wrong.
This sweepstakes will not be boring.
While Adam Dunn has signed with the White Sox, Adrian Gonzalez has been traded to the Red Sox, and Jayson Werth has signed with the Nationals, one must remember that the gem of the market - the best player available - is still out there in the person of Cliff Lee. It's Lee who may end up making the biggest headlines at the upcoming Winter Meetings, and Sunday night, we may have learned what the Rangers need to do to bring Lee back.
According to Yahoo!'s Tim Brown, Lee has told former teammates in Texas that he would re-sign with the Rangers if the team offered a six-year contract.
This is an unconfirmed report, but it would make sense. The Yankees are expected to offer six years while the Rangers are rumored to have set their limit at five, hoping that Lee would sacrifice a little money to be closer to his Arkansas home. And Lee could still make that choice, but a guaranteed sixth year from Texas could put them over the top. At that point, even in the event of an overbid by New York, the difference wouldn't be that big, and Lee has a strong desire to be near his family.
It's possible that the Lee sweepstakes could reach a resolution as early as this week. Stay tuned as the Rangers, Yankees, and a possible mystery team battle it out.
Throughout the Cliff Lee free agency sweepstakes, it's been assumed that the lefty would end up either returning to the Rangers or signing with the Yankees. And, indeed, those remain by far the two most probable outcomes. But Ken Rosenthal introduces the idea that there could be a mystery team hot on the trail.
Rosenthal takes care to note that he's speculating more than anything else, but he names the Angels, Tigers, White Sox, Reds, and Phillies as teams he could see getting involved. In Rosenthal's own words:
I don't have any information that any of these clubs actually is pursuing Lee. I'm well aware that for some, his expected average salary of $23 million to $25 million would be out of range.
I'm just mapping out scenarios, playing a little GM.
Meanwhile, word is that the Rangers are setting an upper limit of five years, while the Yankees might be willing to go to six. If the Yankees offer Lee a six-year contract while the Rangers stay at five, then that could put New York over the top. The Rangers really need Lee to be willing to make a sacrifice in order to remain closer to his Arkansas home.
For the second time since Cliff Lee became a free agent, representatives from the Rangers have flown to his Arkansas home to hold a meeting.
General manager Jon Daniels and president Nolan Ryan were both on hand to talk to Lee and try to convince him to return to Texas, where Lee helped guide the Rangers to the World Series. No formal offer appears to have been made, and some sources deny that any offer has yet been made by anyone, but earlier Wednesday it was reported that the Rangers were on the verge of drawing up a contract, so it's now only a matter of time. Even if neither the Yankees nor Rangers have as of yet offered Lee a deal, those offers should be only days away.
The Rangers have expressed a willingness to offer Lee as many as five years. Time will tell whether the Yankees are willing to go to six, or even seven.
Buster Olney said on Monday that the Cliff Lee negotiations would soon heat up in earnest. And now, via the New York Post, we learn that the Rangers are about to make their first contract offer to the free agent ace lefty.
The Rangers, the article says, aren't afraid to go as long as five years, which would be a significant commitment to the 32-year-old starting pitcher. However, the team believes that the Yankees have already made a five- or six-year offer, forcing the Rangers to start with a big bid. They won't win Lee without going a little above what they might find comfortable.
While the Yankees are expected to outbid the Rangers in the end, the hope for Texas is that they can sway the veteran with their lack of a state tax, and with their proximity to his family home in Arkansas. However, in the event that Lee still chooses New York, the Rangers have backup plans in place, which may include Royals ace Zack Greinke.
So far, through the first few weeks of free agency, the Cliff Lee sweepstakes have moved ahead at a slow and steady pace, with teams checking in to express their interest. According to Buster Olney, however, the expectation is that things will soon heat up and heat up quickly, to the point where Lee may even sign during next week's Winter Meetings.
The talk to date has been about the Rangers, Yankees, and Nationals, but Mark Zuckerman gives the Nationals the longest of odds, meaning that, in the end, this could and should come down to the fight that everyone's been expecting - the Rangers going head-to-head against the Yankees. With Lee being the premier pitcher on the market, each team will be willing to pay a very hefty price.
If the Rangers miss out on Lee, they could turn their attention to Royals ace Zack Greinke. If the Yankees miss out on Lee, meanwhile, they could focus instead on Carl Crawford.
On Thursday, Nolan Ryan said he expected the Yankees to outbid the Rangers for the services of free agent pitcher Cliff Lee. Five days later, New York may have done just that.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown, the Yankees have offered Lee, 32 years old, a six-year, $140 million contract, but the pitcher is holding out for a seventh year. Neither side is confirming those numbers.
In his baseball notes column on Sunday, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo said that the rumor is the Yankees were in "the $115 million-$120 million range for five years," with Texas ready to match it. Cafardo also mentioned that the Nationals are "aggressive in this hunt."
This would obviously not be the first time the Yankees have handed out a huge contract to a pitcher. In 2008, they signed CC Sabathia to a seven-year, $161 million contract, and paid Roger Clemens a pro-rated salary of $28 million in 2007.
The Cliff Lee sweepstakes are underway, and while Lee and his agent aren't yet accepting contract offers, one still gets the sense that this will develop into a two-horse race. The Yankees met with Lee at his home. The Rangers met with Lee at his home. And the expectation is that it will be those two teams who end up bidding against one another.
The Yankees, of course, have all the resources in the world. But the Rangers have new ownership and playoff profits, putting them in a great position to be able to sign a player of Lee's magnitude. However, despite everything they have, Nolan Ryan and the Rangers still expect the Yankees to outbid them for Lee's services.
Ryan says he'll try to sell Lee on Texas - which shouldn't be hard, given that he lives in Arkansas not too far away - but New York has obvious appeal, and not only because the baseball team is an annual favorite to win the World Series. The Rangers' big hope will probably end up being that Lee prefers playing close to home, which is something they'll need to count on if they want to lock him up. The Yankees have a very strong desire to get Lee in their uniform, and financially, they may stop at nothing.
Last week, Cliff Lee met with representatives for the Yankees at his home in Arkansas, and general manager Brian Cashman came away saying he was impressed. This week - on Monday - it was the Rangers who flew into town to meet with Lee. Which is sensible, given that they're the other favorite in the bidding for the winter's top free agent.
GM Jon Daniels, CEO Chuck Greenberg, and team president Nolan Ryan all represented the Rangers organization in the visit, which reportedly lasted about two hours. No proposals were exchanged, and the meeting was simply about seeing where Lee stands, and trying to plant some seeds in his mind.
Lee's agent has gone on record as saying that they're not yet accepting contract offers, preferring instead to wait and see how things play out. It shouldn't be long before we start hearing some numbers thrown around, but Lee isn't expected to sign until the beginning of December at the absolute earliest.
Let the fun begin: according to MLB Trade Rumors, the Yankees are flying to Arkansas on Wednesday to meet with free agent pitcher Cliff Lee (and considering he's been a free agent since Sunday, it's surprising it took this long, really).
The New York Post's Joel Sherman adds that Brian Cashman, the general manager, will be the team's representative attending the meeting with Lee, but the Yankees are not expected to make a contract offer (not yet, anyways). Sherman also reports that New York is the first club "to take advantage of an open invitation to visit Lee in his native Arkansas, but they are not expected to be the last."
Indeed, Ken Rosenthal has already said that seven to eight teams are interested in acquiring Lee, including the New York's A.L. East rival, the Boston Red Sox. At this point though, the Yankees and Texas Rangers are assumed to be the front-runners.
Ace lefty Cliff Lee has only been a free agent since 12:01am ET Sunday morning, but already a number of teams have called to check in on how he's doing, and what he might want.
Ken Rosenthal reports that 7-8 teams have already shown interest in Lee, just over the past few days. The Rangers and Yankees, of course, remain the consensus favorites, as the former has money and just took Lee to the World Series, while the latter has more money and enters every season as a championship front-runner.
But they aren't the only teams involved. According to Rosenthal, both the Phillies and Dodgers have also checked in, and one can imagine that the Nationals have placed a call or two as well, as they've openly expressed a desire to land a top-of-the-line starter. And then there are a few other mystery teams who have made contact.
It would appear that Lee is destined to either stay a Ranger or become a Yankee. The offseason, though, can be full of surprises.
The 2010 baseball season hasn't been over for a week, and already most everyone has turned their attention to free agency and the offseason. This is a time for every team to try and build a winner by restructuring their rosters and making key additions.
And the guy who's probably going to make the best addition for somebody is Cliff Lee, the 32 year old free agent lefty who just wrapped up a losing World Series with the Rangers. Lee's free agency has been anticipated all year long, and the anticipation only grew more eager when Lee went out and had one of the better seasons in recent memory. Including the playoffs, he posted a 3.12 ERA over 33 starts with the Mariners and Rangers, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 11.6 was the highest all-time for a starting pitcher.
Lee's the best pitcher and probably the best player on the market, and he's going to earn a big payday. The two favorites to land him are the Yankees and the Rangers. The Yankees, because they covet everything. And the Rangers, because they saw what Lee could do, and because new ownership has them flush with money. But according to Jerry Crasnick, there's at least one other team who's sniffing around:
While the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees are the obvious frontrunners for marquee free agent starter Cliff Lee, sources say the Washington Nationals are a potential sleeper team in the competition to land Lee. "They're going to step up and try to get a top free agent,'' one baseball insider said. "They'd like to make a splash.''
If this does end up coming down to the Yankees and the Rangers, Darren Rovell writes that state taxes may end up making a difference. Texas does not have a state income tax, meaning that, depending on the contract size, Lee could still get as much from the Rangers as he could from the Yankees despite a richer offer from the latter. The difference could end up being somewhere in the low eight figures.
Lee is looking at something like a five-year contract worth upwards of $20 million a year.
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