Already hours into the first day teams can contact free agents in MLB, everybody is wondering what kind of deal the Yankees will offer Cliff Lee if the opportunity arises.
Well it’s not about if, but rather when.
The Yankees are not the first team mentioned as possible suitors for Lee. The Washington Nationals have also entered in their hats; already throwing a sales pitch—no pun intended—towards Lee.
The Boston Red Sox are speculated as another team that will “sideline” themselves as they watch the bidding wars intensify over the next several weeks; a situation that is inevitable.
But what about those Yanks?
The Yankees have already eaten a huge chunk of “Sabathia pie” with his gigantic $161 million contract, and there’s plenty more still on the plate. A. J. Burnett is like unwanted luggage, remaining on the team for the interim, and Andy Pettitte is not yet ready to commit to playing in 2011.
With so many questions, and a collectively old team, it makes sense to grab Lee, right?
Not quite so.
The rumor circulating is that Cliff Lee will try his hand at grabbing a similar deal that C.C. Sabathia was awarded (seven years, $161 million) a couple of years ago. The only team rich enough and dumb enough to sign a 30-year-old pitcher to a multi-million, multi-year deal, is the Yankees.
No offense Yankees fans, but if they were to offer Cliff Lee a deal like that, you have to admit it's a bad move on the organization's part with so many other glaring issues.
C’mon folks, let’s be honest. Cliff Lee is a great pitcher with a boat load of talent and value in his postseason capabilities. But to entertain a six, or even seven year deal, with a pitcher that is already 30, is just silly.
Sure, it may get them another notch in their bed post in another year or two—all assumption being placed on the fact the Yanks land Lee—but how much baggage will be left at the airport when Lee’s age eventually catches up with him?
There is another side to the story; a side that has the Yankees by the you know what.
There are simply no pitchers on the market right now—none that haven’t already been locked up anyway—so in a sense, the Yankees have to make a move.
In addition, they are devoid of an actual potent starting rotation. So yeah, the Yankees have to pull the trigger.
On the plus side, there isn’t a team out there who can out bid them.
Boston would be the closest, but they’ve already locked in Josh Beckett through four years for close to $70 million, and they certainly won’t offer more than five years to Cliff Lee.
Washington has absolutely no buying power what-so-ever to compete against the Yankees, and while there is always the possibility of Texas holding onto him—yikes, near miss on another unintentional pun—their media market, buying power and merchandising market combined isn’t enough to compete with the Yankees bloated checkbook.
In the end, there is little evidence and argument to bring to the table that would refute Cliff Lee eventually becoming a Yankee, but that doesn’t mean it’s the wisest choice for the Bronx Bombers.