Both Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford remain free agents as of Wednesday evening, despite rampant speculation that the New York Yankees are closing in on both players and that Anaheim, which has cash to spend, is still heavily involved. Texas also is staying heavily involved.
The last update from the Yankees' end of things was that they offered six years and $140 million for Lee. The last update from Lee's end of things was that his agent, Derek Braunecker, had left the meetings, although that was not confirmed.
New York general manager Brian Cashman had already expressed frustration with the slow pace of negotiations with Braunecker and it's a near-certainty the Yanks won't go to a seventh year, so expect their offer to sit there for a bit. What figured to be the first domino to fall at the meetings, Lee, could stay standing a little while longer.
Given that, we could see offseason maneuvering that was initially sped up due to altered roster deadlines get dragged into the holidays. Waiting will be the name of the game.
Teams interested in Lee will wait for word on their offers. Teams not interested will wait for that scenario to play itself out before making other moves (the Angels, who may be in on Lee but have prioritized offense, might fall into this category). And the big dog in the fight, the Yankees, continue to wait on word from Andy Pettitte, who may or may not retire and whose decision might impact the rest of their offseason.
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein labeled the process "one big dance" on Wednesday night.
Epstein's team, however, may not have to wait on anyone. If indeed Boston remains on the periphery of the Crawford rush, as it appears it might, and remains far from Lee, it will have every opportunity to stay focused on filling areas of need.
Despite indications that the Red Sox were getting close in some of those areas, they were rather quiet on the third day of the meetings Wednesday. As was the case after the second day, Boston is still looking for a bat, presumably a right-handed one, and at least one reliever. Reports linking the Sox to free agent catcher Russell Martin gained little traction after the morning.
"Nothing really new," Epstein said when asked if he was getting close on anything. "Moving forward on a few negotiations. Moved backward on a few."
The big news outside Lee and Crawford involved two deals for first baseman becoming official Wednesday. Paul Konerko inked a three-year, $37.5 million extension with the White Sox and Carlos Pena finalized a one-year, $10 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.
The latter of the two deals brought forth agent Scott Boras, who represents Pena, for his annual media crush. Boras created a scrum in the south wing of the Swan and Dolphin Resort that lasted for 90 minutes, according to some accounts, and touched base on a multitude of clients that have at least some connection to the Red Sox.
Unsurprisingly, Boras said the market for Adrian Beltre is a good one and the persistent news on the Michael Young front. Fellow clients of the super agent, Carlos Beltran and Magglio Ordonez, could be staying put in 2011. Boras said Beltran still "sees himself as a Met" and Ordonez had a workout for Detroit in Florida on Wednesday.
Boras then vanished into what has been a chilly Floridian air all week, perhaps the cause of the relatively cool transaction front at the winter meetings.
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