The most popular man in baseball is now on the open market and the rumors and predictions have begun. Cliff Lee was considered one of the top 5-10 pitchers in the game at the start of the season, and after the way he pitched in the first two rounds of the playoffs with the Texas Rangers his value was solidified. The ace left-hander has been a force over the last two postseasons before being dented by the Giants in the World Series a couple of weeks ago. So once again one of the elite players in the game of baseball is on the free agent market again and many people expect one team to try and woe him with a mountain of American currency.
The New York Yankees have been interested in Lee for years, but want him even more now after how he has pitched against them in New York over the last couple of postseasons. Lee has dominated the Yanks in their own ballpark and showed that he is one of the top pitchers. The Yankees tried to trade for him mid-season, but the Rangers were able to swoop in and grab him out from under them. Then Cliff goes on to help propel the Rangers past the Yankees and into the World Series, and now the Rangers and Yankees are competing all over again. Only this time it might decide who will be the top team in the American League for a few years to come.
Lee is getting on the back half of his prime years, and this will most likely be his last big contract like this. The question becomes how much is he worth and should the Texas Rangers pay him that much. Guesses have been that Lee will seek about the same amount per year as top free agent Sabathia did from the Yankees last season. So it figures Lee could be looking for about $20-25 million per season, and which is fine in most opinions. Personally I think that seems like A-Rod type money and we know what happened the Rangers spent that much money on just one guy. The big question that I have is how long do you sign him for? Rumors are that one of the types of deals that his agent is asking for is seven years at $160 million. That is crazy talk! Paying him high money for a few years is fine, but it is about 95% likely that by then time the deal is complete and Lee is 39 years-old, that he will not be worth that much per a season over the last year or two of that deal. Plus if somethings strange happens and he develops an injury history or he really drops off after only 3 or 4 more years? Then the Rangers get screwed.
I think you have to try and keep Cliff. I think the Rangers have a good chance too. He has said he enjoyed his time here, the Rangers players loved him, the Rangers have youth and even more promising prospects all throughout their system to help them be a contender for years to come, and his family is from not to far into Arkansas. Plenty of things are in the Rangers favor. But the Yankees could fall for it and offer him a 5-7 year deal for top money. The Rangers have to keep open communication and remind him why he liked being here and why he should stay. But when I look at it, the Rangers need to offer him a 4-5 year deal and try to put some big money into it. But they should not go for that 7-year idea, nor should they have to put up $24-25 million a season unless they really have to. And even then, that much money might be better spent on 2-3 top other free agents. We really could use him, but we do not need to lose ourselves and fall into paying a mountain of money for more then half of a decade.