The Yankees need Cliff Lee, and they are doing everything in their power to get him.
According to MLB.com, they added a seventh year to their six-year, $140 million proposal. Some might speculate that the Yankees only did this because the Red Sox offered Lee a seven-year contract.
Although there is a very slim chance that Lee would choose the lower-priced offer from the Red Sox, Theo Epstein and the Sox were smart in offering him the contract. By offering him seven years, this forced New York general manager Brian Cashman to offer Lee the same, despite not wanting to go that far.
"I know what we're willing to do," Cashman told MLB.com. "The player and his agent know what we're willing to do. We know, they know. That's all that matters. They have the information necessary to put themselves in the position to make a good decision."
Cashman proposed an offer to Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, on Wednesday as the agent left the winter meetings. Braunecker was expected to relay the deal to Lee in Arkansas.
A day after Cashman's offer, the Rangers re-affirmed their commitment to signing Lee by offering a platter of different contract options for the left-hander. The number of different offers from the Rangers showed their desperate attempt to keep Lee in Texas next season.
Their new bid for Lee followed the Red Sox' addition of Carl Crawford for seven-years and $142 million. Cashman entertained Crawford over dinner on Tuesday, but Lee is their top choice.
"We never made an offer," Cashman said of Crawford. "I've reached out to everybody and anybody, but it's not a need for us. We have [Brett] Gardner, we have [Curtis] Granderson, we have [Nick] Swisher. I have a certain amount of money I can spend. I'm going to be aggressive on areas of need, not areas that aren't of need."
Did the Red Sox' addition of Crawford impact the Yankees' thinking on Lee? Not if you ask Brian Cashman. But the Red Sox did come out with the upper hand by running up the price for the left-hander, forcing the Yankees into adding an additional year.
"Our desire is the same today as it was," Cashman told MLB.com. "I don't think you can increase it any more. We have a significant interest in Cliff Lee, and we've communicated that. They know it and they're in a position to make some decisions as they collect the information on their end."
Cliff Lee has put the Yankees in an unfamiliar position. Usually, they are the team that makes others sweat. This winter, they are the ones who are nervous.
If Lee chooses the Rangers, they could have some big question marks.
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