To Lee or not to Lee, that is the question. One the New York Yankees must ask themselves now since the Boston Red Sox overpaid Carl Crawford (seven years, $142 million) to keep him out of the hands of the Yankees and who was a target of this season’s free agents. With the uncertainty of Andy Pettitte’s return, the Yankees find themselves in a place where one player, Cliff Lee, is at the top of their Christmas Wish List. But at what cost one should ask.
This habitual free spending practice in which the Yankees have undertaken will at some point come home to roost. Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are locked up and Alex Rodriguez will seemingly also finish his career in pinstripes. Speculation says that Lee wants a deal in the seven-year range, which would make him 39 in the last year of his contract. History tells us that when you sign a pitcher over the age of 30 for upwards of five years, you are paying them for 3 good years of service, and hoping to get a halfway decent year out of the two. For those of you whom have short memories allow me to refresh you: Kevin Brown. In fact, one of the only times in recent history where a pitcher signed a contract that would bring them deep into their thirties that turned out well was Mike Mussina. Sure he didn’t win any championships with the Bronx Bombers, but he was an instrumental, reliable, and productive part of their pitching staff throughout his tenure. Mid-season, the Yankees had a chance to trade for Lee but negotiations fell through and he was dealt to the Texas Rangers who rode his arm all the way to the World Series. The Yankees have allegedly offered Lee a six year deal worth $137-$140 million, which is slightly higher than the deal New York Mets ace Johan Santana signed. Will this be enough to bring him to the Bronx, or will his agent use this offer to raise his value to the Texas Rangers, Lee’s last team that he says he wouldn’t mind returning to? Either way, the Yankees want, and deserve an answer in a timely fashion so they can either welcome a former nemesis to the famed pinstripes, or make a deal to sure up their starting rotation.