Rangers minority owner and club president Nolan Ryan has told members of the Dallas media that he has indeed instructed Darek Braunecker, Cliff Lee's agent, to tell the Rangers what it will take to bring Lee back to Arlington.
The defending American League Champion Rangers have multiple options to improve their chances of finishing the job in 2011, but all plans will be determined by whether or not the team can re-sign Lee.
The billion dollar question surrounding Cliff Lee at this point in the offseason is whether or not the Rangers are willing to offer six years for the prize of the free agent market.
That answer appears to be yes as Ryan told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he expects it to take an offer of at least six years and that the Rangers would strongly consider it.
"It really comes down to whether we're willing to go to six years," Ryan said. "I think if they come back with a proposal for him to come over, we're going to have to sit down and talk and look at it.
"I'm probably more there today than I have been the last few days about six years, realizing that if you're going to have Cliff Lee pitching for you, that's probably what you're looking at."
In other words, the Rangers won't make it a habit of giving 32 year old pitchers a six year deal, but Lee is a special case.
If there is any validity at all to the rumor going into the Winter Meetings this week about Lee telling Texas teammates he'll return to the Rangers if they offer six years then the race for Lee could very well be over in the Rangers favor.
However, if Lee wants the biggest number on the contract then he'll be wearing Yankee pinstripes by Monday.
While the Rangers can match the Yankees initial offer, Texas will likely not be able to outbid the Yankee counter offers; however, they can get close.
Whether it'll be close enough for Lee to re-sign is still to be determined, but one thing is clear thus far.
All things being equal or even if the Rangers get close but still fall just short, then Lee will report to Surprise, Arizona instead of Tampa Bay, Florida in February.
Should Lee sign with another team the Rangers have multiple options that begin with Zack Greinke.
According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Royals are asking for minor league shortstop Jurickson Profar, minor league outfielder Engel Beltre and either LHP Martin Perez or RHP Tanner Scheppers.
The hang-up appears to be Perez as the Rangers don't want to trade the organization's top pitching prospect.
If the Rangers can re-sign Lee then Kansas City loses some leverage and may have to settle for another pitching prospect besides Perez.
If they lose Lee then expect the Rangers to throw Perez in the deal and complete the trade for Greinke.
The Rangers back-up plan to Lee was widely believed to be trading for Greinke and signing Crawford; a move some feel is the better option to signing Lee, but Crawford reached an agreement with Boston late Wednesday night.
The Rangers can still bring back Vlad to finish off the offense making starting pitching the main area the team needs to upgrade if they want to repeat as champions of the American League.
The bottom line to all of this is the Rangers must resolve the Lee situation one way or another soon so they can carry out the rest of their offseason plans.
Luckily that should happen by the end of the weekend.