Report: Nationals Pull Out of Cliff Lee Sweepstakes, Leave Rangers, Yankees as Only Known Bidders

The Washington Nationals were always considered underdogs to land Cliff Lee, and now they may be done even attempting to sign him.

According to a report by MLB.com’s Bill Ladsen, the Nationals no longer have any intention of signing Lee, and have dropped out of the race to acquire his services.

The Nationals have been surprise players in this year’s free-agent market, signing outfielder Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million contract earlier in the week. But with Carl Crawford signing with the Red Sox, Victor Martinez landing in Detroit and Lee left to decide between the Yankees and Rangers, it appears as though Werth will be the only major splash the Nats make this offseason.

Lee would likely have headed a rotation that includes Jason Marquis, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and Livan Hernandez had he signed with Washington. He could have formed a dynamic one-two punch with Stephen Strasburg, who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, by 2012.

Instead, Lee will likely end up with the Rangers, with whom he went to the World Series in 2010, or with the Yankees, who nearly acquired the lefty at last season’s trade deadline and have a thin rotation after CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes.

Lee is believed to want a seven-year deal worth upwards of $20 million annually.

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