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.