Cliff Lee Is Wasting Time: How Long Will the Yankees Wait?

James Stewart-MeudtCorrespondent IIDecember 9, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Losing pitcher Cliff Lee #33 of the Texas Rangers looks on from the dugout 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

So far this offseason, the Yankees have been uncharacteristically quiet. Their biggest free agent target, Cliff Lee, hasn't even engaged them in formal discussions regarding a contract for next season.

Recently, the Yankees made their first offer for the prized lefty: Six years and between $140-150 million.

Almost immediately following the signing of Carl Crawford with the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees panicked and increased their initial offer to seven years and a yet undisclosed amount of money.

Is it possible the Yankees would pay Lee as much as $27 million per season? Given how badly the Yankees need Cliff Lee to bolster their flawed starting rotation, it might not be so far fetched.

While the Yankees have never wavered on signing Lee, Crawford was their second choice guy, but he's gone now, leaving only Lee.

To be fair, the Yankees' initial six-year offer to Lee was incredible and it's unlikely any other team could match it.

But Lee and his agent, Darek Braunecker, seem perfectly willing to let the Yankees sit on their hands while other teams, namely the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, prepare their offers.

Recently, the Rangers directly asked Braunecker what it would cost to sign Lee. What was his response? Simple, he wouldn't say. He would only tell them to make their best offer.

If he's not going to give teams a starting price, and he'll ignore the Yankees well above market value offer, what exactly is he expecting?

During the Winter Meetings, there were reports of two mystery teams willing go to seven years with Lee, while the Yankees were steadfast in their decision to not go past six years.

Well, that went out the window late last night with the Crawford signing. So if the Yankees are not only willing to offer a seven-year deal, but they're also willing to offer the most money, is it possible that Lee doesn't want to pitch in the Bronx and he's hoping another team will step up?

While the signings of Crawford with the Red Sox and Jayson Werth with the Washington Nationals have basically wiped the free agent board clean, the Yankees don't really have anything else to chase down.

They can sit back and wait for Lee to finally make up his mind and maybe try to make some smaller signings to bolster their team in other ways, namely in the bullpen.

On the other hand, Lee has the Yankees exactly where he wants them—starving and desperate.