This craziness started on Sunday night when Jayson Werth got a seven-year deal with the Nationals. The market for premier free agents was set, and the top two were still on the board.
Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee were inevitably going to take Werth’s deal to the bank. Late last night, Crawford cashed in on the largest contract ever given to an outfielder. This morning, we learned that the Yankees were willing to go seven years for Lee. It’s entirely possible they were always willing to go seven.
Joel Sherman reports that Brian Cashman has actually presented Lee with a series of options ranging from five years to seven, with the average annual value getting smaller as the years grow longer.
Are they on the verge of overpaying? Maybe, but this is the market. Lee is a pitcher and thus carries more risk than a couple of corner outfielders, but he’s also the undisputed king of this winter’s bidding. The Angels have money to spend. The Rangers are still making a push. At various times the Phillies and suddenly free-spending Nationals have been mentioned as dark horse candidates.
The Yankees have a glaring need in the rotation, the market doesn’t offer an obvious alternative and every long-term, high-dollar deal involves considerable risk. The Yankees are going to take that risk with Lee.
“Our desire is the same today as it was prior to that (Crawford) signing,” Cashman said this morning. “I don’t think you can increase it any more. We have a significant interest in Cliff Lee, and we’ve communicated that.”