Quite a few reports are saying that Cliff Lee has looked over the New York Yankees' seven-year, $161 million offer and the several offers made by the Texas Rangers.
One offer made by Texas is generally a six-year deal with an option, which could easily be construed as a seven-year deal.
It may be for a little less money than the Yankees offer, but the comfort level Lee has with the Rangers must weigh pretty heavily in the small-town Lee's psyche.
One of Lee's friends from Benton, Ark., came out and said Lee has pretty much picked Texas over New York. If you feel that money and the years were the overriding factors, then Lee would have already chosen the Yankees offer and moved on.
Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, played this one perfectly.
While many people thought Lee would set the market, Braunecker let other "lesser" free agents sign to set the bench mark. Now the Yankees and Rangers are both willing to spend gobs of cash to the 32-year-old left-handed hurler, the only truly impact free agent left on the market.
I have always thought that Lee would stay in Texas.
First, Lee would be near his roots. Second, Lee likes being a mentor to the other young pitchers the Rangers have, especially lefties C.J. Wilson, a virtual Lee clone, and Derek Holland, who I feel will be a star. He will be a star because the Rangers will allow him the opportunity to pitch in the majors.
With the Boston Red Sox trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing free agent Carl Crawford, the Red Sox lineup is now predominantly left-handed. Now there is more pressure than ever for the Yankees to sign Lee, a left-handed ace.
Another reason why it might be extremely important for the Yankees to sign Lee is that Andy Pettitte has yet to decide whether he wants to return for his 17th major league season.
Pettitte would likely return if he feels the Yankees have a good chance at making the World Series run. If the Yankees do not sign Lee, Pettitte might feel the Yankees chance of getting to the World Series is lessened, and Andy could retire instead.
So getting Lee in the fold could be doubly beneficial with the Yankees going up against the Sox. While you feel the Yankees and Red Sox both will beat up on most of the AL, it is vitally important now how they do head to head.
With several other AL teams (White Sox, Tigers, Orioles) getting better, there is no guarantee that the Yankees make the postseason with Lee and Pettitte, as the wild card battle would be fierce.
But it will be a much tougher road without one or both.
The Yankees will probably get really nervous Monday and will up their offer, but in the end Lee goes back to Texas.
In case Lee heads south, the Yankees should promote from within with guys already in their system like Ivan Nova, David Phelps and Hector Noesi. Adam Warren and Manuel Banuelos should be major league ready by 2012, too.
But they won't promote from within, so here are some left-handed arms who they could obtain via trade.