There has been a lot of back and forth on Cliff Lee this morning, with rumors swirling that the Nationals were prepared to hand him a very large 7 year deal. That was later dispelled by Jon Heyman and Adam Kilgore, and it is unclear whether the Nats are interested in lee at all. One theme that seems to remain, though, is that there is at least one team prepared to offer Lee that sort of length, and that it is likely not the Yankees:
From Jon Heyman:
Hearing there is a 7-year market for cliff lee (for 20-mil plus a yr).
From Mark Feinsand:
Source says Yankees appear unwilling to go to a seventh year for the 32-year-old.
We have heard that the Rangers are reluctant to go to 6 years, let alone 7, and many have echoed the sentiment from Feinsand that the Yankees will not pass 6 years either. This means that there is a mystery team involved, or that Lee’s agent is putting these report out there to goad the Yankees into offering a 7th season.
Hopefully the Yankees do not give into the pressure to give him that extra year. Lee is a great pitcher, but giving him a deal that stretches past his 39th birthday is a bad idea and will kill the Yankees in terms of roster flexibility going forward. They need to draw a line in terms of what they are comfortable giving Lee and then stick to that limit. The idea is to maximize the ratio of years in which you can expect him to remain elite to years in which you expect him to decline. I would prefer that they try and blow him out of the water with a huge 5 year deal, but I can understand offering 6 seasons to a fantastic lefty with little mileage on his arm. Anything past that would be quite risky, as it would be adding downside years to the deal that he may not be able to compensate for in the first few seasons of the contract.
Update: Heyman adds:
Cliff Lee has at least one 7 year offer for $20-25 mil (not the nats). #yankees have been intending to stay at 6 yrs tops. We’ll see.
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