Cliff Lee: Nationals, Yankees and Rangers Are in, but Who's the Mystery Team?

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer IDecember 7, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Cliff Lee #33 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on November 1, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

If you've been watching and listening to all the coverage on Major League Baseball's winter meetings, or maybe following along on Twitter, you've seen a lot of news surrounding left-hander Cliff Lee.

We know the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees are in, but we found out earlier this morning that the Washington Nationals had apparently jumped into the running. Surprising, seeing as they already threw $126 million at outfielder Jayson Werth.

Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo is trying to load up his team for a run at the playoffs for the 2011 season and beyond. I have to give him credit, just one day after taking shots at him, for at least giving his fans a reason to believe that contending isn't years away, but maybe just months away.

So we know there are at least three teams holding discussions with Lee and his agent, but apparently there is a mystery team that is involved as well. One that apparently, according to Jon Heyman of, has already given the free agent pitcher a seven-year offer.

Who is that mystery team? We know the Yankees are not willing to give Lee more than six years and though there's been no official word from the Rangers on how long of a deal they're willing to give, I don't believe they are willing to give him more than five or six.

So who does that leave? If all three of the teams we know about aren't willing to give seven, who is?

Here are a few teams to think about. I'm not saying they are the mystery team we're talking about, but I'm just giving out names to think about.

Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Those are the four teams who could get involved. The Cubs desperately need to give their fans a ray of hope and you know the White Sox and manager Ozzie Guillen would love to return to the World Series. Adding Adam Dunn was a good start for them.

As for the Dodgers and the Angels, both have young pitching and both have the money to throw at Lee.

The Dodgers just finished the court proceedings with the divorce of the McCourts. Now that that's out of the way, they can focus on the players they need to bring in. While I don't believe the Dodgers will give seven years, they have a manager in Don Mattingly that would love to have a guy like Lee.

Now to the Angels. Owner Artie Moreno is not a guy that's going to throw money around blindly, unless it's for a guy he feels is worth it. Cliff Lee is certainly a guy that can be a huge addition to an already talented rotation that boasts Jered Weaver.

So, with all that being said, I'm curious to hear your guesses on who you believe the mystery team is. And, while we're at it, how much do you think Lee is going to command to get a deal done?

There is going to be speculation, rumors, maneuvering, and gesturing in the media to make one team think one thing while making another team think something else.

This is going to be a fun ride to the finish. It's why, to me, the winter meetings are one of the most exciting times of the off season.

Cliff Lee is going somewhere. Will he go to whomever gives him the most money? Or is there a tie to the Rangers that will bring him back as long as the contract offer is reasonable?

There are a lot of questions yet to be answered, but only when answers come will we know how this will play out.