No one said this would be easy...HA HA

I would like to tell you about a current status update about where everything stands, but that is becoming harder and harder to do, but here is a recap of the events since last night. 

We know this much…

  • Darek Braunecker, Lee’s agent, is in Arkansas with the Lee family. 
  • The Yankees made an official offer before Braunecker left the Winter Meetings in Orlando yesterday.  Here is what Joel Sherman of the New York Post believes the contracts to be:
    • Five years, $125MM ($25MM per season)
    • Six years, $144MM ($24MM per season)
    • Seven years, $161MM ($23MM per season)
  • Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg and Assistant GM Thad Levine grabbed a flight this morning bound for Little Rock, Arkansas to have a meeting with Lee and his family, and of course his agent.
  • Cliff Lee, his family, and his agent will meet with Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Levine this evening, Greenberg and Levine have spent all day preparing their case.

It is strongly believed that Lee will likely decide and sign by weekend’s end if not earlier, and by the way things have developed the past 18 hours, I would definitely agree.  The Rangers, yesterday, asked Braunecker what it would take to sign his client, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.  The agent, who still and always will hold the upper hand got back to Texas today and told them to pitch us your best offer. 

I’m not in any type of denial and will admit that as of right now the Yankees are the front-runner, but that is completely based upon the fact that they offered Lee a seven-year deal, in which he will be 39 when that ends.  New York’s decision to offer a seven-year deal came rather quickly after the Red Sox agreed on a contract with Carl Crawford (seven-year, $142MM).  Knowing that their Plan B was no longer an option they jumped, out of greed, desperation, or desire, at the opportunity to wrap up their first priority ASAP.  And as much as I hate it, if I were in their shoes, I’d do the same thing.

From the Texas standpoint it’s no longer a game of chicken, the Yankees have flashed their muscle and if we still want Lee, we will HAVE to do the same.  This likely means Texas will have to offer Lee a seven-year contract, or at the very least (and a tad riskier) six guaranteed years with a vesting 7th option year that would depend upon his performance in the previous six seasons.  It’s been rough and I have been worried about this the entire day, but there are some rays of sunshine and that has to do with the two men Texas has, for lack of a better phrase, sent into battle.  Chuck Greenberg, owner and CEO, is the man that controls the money and how it is used, Thad Levine, Asst. GM, is the man that controls and works out player contracts, so is there really any two better people to have in Little Rock tonight.  Let the men who deal with the money and contracts work their “magic” and if in the end it’s not enough, then that was Cliff’s decision and it’s time to move on. 

If it helps, one year ago to the date is the day that Texas traded Kevin Millwood to Baltimore for Chris Ray, cash, and a PTBNL (ended up being Ben Snyder in the Rule 5 Draft)…then agreed to a one-year deal with Rich Harden…and finally agreed to trade Max Ramirez to Boston for Mike Lowell and cash, pending a physical that Lowell late failed.  Rather busy December 9th, 2009, and it seems 2010’s version could be just as interesting, let’s hope with another positive Ranger outcome.

The Yankees have set their pieces and are poised to strike and finalize this now, however the Rangers remain still alive.  The ball is in Texas’ court and they likely will have to act tonight or move on.  If we get him, awesome…bring on 2011.  If we don’t, well then fine, we will survive, we are still a good team, and we will move forward.  That’s all I plan to touch on until after a decision has been made. 

In my humble opinion, and controversial no matter what I say, I say offer the man six guaranteed years at $144MM with a seventh year vesting options (that is dependent upon his performance in the fifth and sixth years of the contract) worth $20MM and a buyout of $5-8MM if we don’t exercise it and judge the response.  And if it comes down to them walking away from the table, then offer the seven-year contract and we can deal with the aging Cliff Lee when we get there.  I don’t want it to get out of hands, and if it does then I’ll be fine not getting him, but I’m still in favor of paying the man and bringing him back for 2011 and beyond.

As always more when it becomes available…