Armed with the belief the Yankees are willing to pay Cliff Lee $23 million a year, the Rangers are on the verge of making an official offer to retain the left-handed free-agent hurler.He also mentioned that the Rangers are hoping the lack of a state tax will help keep Lee in Texas, however, several club officials "strongly believe" Lee will sign with the Yankees because of the difference in money between the Yanks and Rangers will be too great.
According to a person with knowledge of Texas' plans, the Rangers are not wary of going to five years in a contract offer for the 32-year-old Lee. Nevertheless, if Lee opts for the most money, the Rangers are not expected to top the Yankees, who the AL champions believe already have made a five- or six-year offer to Lee.
"They want to know soon on Lee," the person said of the Rangers, who have prepared backup plans if Lee leaves the team he pitched to the World Series.
Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, did not confirm or deny whether an offer from the Rangers was made yesterday or whether one is coming today.
He did say the process continues to stay in motion.
"We are starting to move stuff along," Braunecker said.
But maybe the process hasn't moved as quickly as King has heard, because today Wallace Matthews reported this:
A baseball source with inside knowledge of the Lee situation shot down a report in Wednesday's edition of the New York Post that the Rangers are readying an offer for Lee and aren't afraid to go to five years to compete with the Yankees. Lee pitched Texas into the World Series but lost the two games he started against the eventual world champion San Francisco Giants.
"Nothing's happening there yet," said the source, who insisted on anonymity because of his active involvement in the Lee chase. "It sounds like a lot of BS being put out by the agent."
Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, did not immediately respond to a text message Wednesday morning but in a phone conversation Tuesday afternoon refused to provide any information regarding which teams had already made offers for the 32-year-old left-hander who won the 2008 Cy Young award and compiled a 12-9 record in 2010 pitching for the Rangers and Seattle Mariners.
"The Yankees haven't made an offer yet," the source said. "[Braunecker] really doesn't want any offers until next week. He wants to be the ringmaster at the winter meetings. I don't expect anything to get done until after that."
Baseball executives involved in the pursuit of Lee told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney on Monday that they believed that a decision on Lee would likely come at the winter meetings.