Cliff Lee decision could take weeks
Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan said Thursday that he believes Cliff Lee would like to make a decision on where he'll play in the next few weeks, though the free agent pitcher has not committed to any timetable.
"I think they'd like to get it done before Christmas, but I don't think that's a deadline by any means," said Ryan, who, along with general manager Jon Daniels, met with Lee, his wife Kristen and agent Darek Braunecker in Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday. "I think we went just to visit with them and see if there had been any changes from the last time we were over there. I know they want the process to move along and to start that process."
Braunecker is in the midst of setting up some final meetings before taking center stage at the winter meetings next Monday in Orlando.
"We're comfortable about where we are now," he said. "You have a guy who is in high demand."
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One of the teams considered a favorite to land the left-hander is the New York Yankees.
"It's no secret we want Cliff, and we will do what we can to get him," Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said. "That's the bottom line."
Lee is expected to command a salary of $20 million-plus per season. At 32, he might receive fewer years than the seven that Lee's good buddy and former Indians teammate, CC Sabathia, did. Sabathia's deal was for $161 million.
"I've never said CC is the goal," Braunecker said when asked if he would match Sabathia's deal.
Ryan remains hopeful the Rangers can bring Lee back to Texas.
"I think if we're competitive, we're going to get a lot of consideration," Ryan said.
Braunecker said earlier Thursday that there is no timetable to get a deal in place for Lee. And he didn't discuss whether the Rangers or any other team has made an offer. But he thought the meeting with the Rangers was productive.
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"It went fine," Braunecker said. "We had a chance to visit a little bit more, and it was a continuation of some of the dialogue we had leading up to the meeting. We appreciated the gesture. It's always nice to get to sit down with the people you're dealing with instead of over the phone or text messaging. All in all, we came away from the meeting appreciative of their time."
It's widely believed that the courtship of Lee will heat up in the Florida sun. While Braunecker will be the focus Monday, his client will be deer hunting. Lee only will make his way to Orlando if there is a news conference to announce his new deal.
Lee will be busy this weekend, as well, which makes scheduling follow-up meetings with teams a little tricky. He is being honored by the Arkansas Boys & Girls Club as its leader of the year.
Lee, 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA in 2010, was dealt to the Rangers by the Mariners at the trade deadline and helped Texas reach the World Series.
Information from ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett, ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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