Texas Rangers

Cliff Lee is Going, Going, Going ... Gone?

This doesn't look good.

The New York Yankees make free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee an offer of six years between $140-$150 million. (UPDATE: How about a seventh year?!) Lee's agent, Darek Brauneker, puts the offer in his briefcase, leaves baseball's winter meetings early and flies to Arkansas to present the deal to Lee and his wife, Kristen, in person.

And your Texas Rangers? They inexplicably aren't in the mood to play poker.

"We don't want to get into a bidding war," says team president and co-owner Nolan Ryan.

Instead of making a counter-offer to the Yankees' ante, the Rangers gave Brauneker a unique, awkward cut-to-the-chase request: Tell us what it will take.


Agents, like auctioneers, don't like to be pinned down. Since the haggling ultimately drives up the price, they savor the give-and-take between multiple bidders.

"We need to find out where we are and not let things linger any further than they need to," Ryan says. "We want to know what it will take to keep him."

I understand Ryan's frustration, but he needs to understand that this - like it or not - is the way the game is played.

The Yankees' offer would make Lee the fourth-highest paid player in the history of the game. Seeing that Rangers' officials wrestled publicly and grumbled privately at a sixth year, a seventh might be the tipping point. And knowing that the Yankees' offer - further fueled by the rival Red Sox' acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford - is probably a starting point more than a climax for their deep pockets, we're faced with this grim reality:

Cliff Lee may become a New York Yankee without the Texas Rangers ever even making a formal bid to keep him.

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt