Commentary

Cliff Lee will have plenty of options

The Yankees will go after him hard, but so will the Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox and ... Nats?

Updated: October 27, 2010, 5:07 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- The Summer of LeBron is about to give way to the Winter of Lee. Like the New York Knicks with LeBron James, the New York Yankees will have competition for Cliff Lee.

Unlike the Knicks, the Yankees can use their financial might to overpower all competitors. The Yankees also have CC Sabathia, who is very tight with Lee. The two pitchers' wives are also close friends. That might help sell the Lees on how great New York can be when you are not sitting in the visitors' section at Yankee Stadium.

So without further ado, here are the teams that could get in the way of the Yankees bringing Lee to the Bronx. All should be aware that Lee is likely to ask for Sabathia money (in the neighborhood of seven years, $161 million).

CO-FAVORITES: Texas Rangers

The Rangers have a World Series appearance and home-field advantage working in their favor. Plus, there is no state income tax in Texas.

Texas could look to spend big with its new ownership and huge new cable deal. Plus, it is closer to Lee's Arkansas home than the Bronx is.

If they can make it close money-wise with the Yankees, maybe Lee stays.

BIG SPENDERS: Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels

With new owner Tom Ricketts, the Cubs are expected to be players. Will they reach deep in their pockets to bring Lee to Wrigley? It seems the only way the Cubs could make it happen would be to really overspend. Besides that, what would be Lee's motivation to go to Chicago?

The Angels could pitch the idea that Lee would be the difference between making it back to the playoffs and the World Series. It is a very believable sell, but in the end the Angels are more likely to get Carl Crawford than Lee.

WILD CARDS WITH A CHANCE: Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox

The Phillies realize that if they had kept Lee, they might have returned to the World Series. With Roy Oswalt only around for one more season, they could try a do-over with Lee. They have already shown they are not scared to admit they made a mistake. Still, with Roy Halladay, Oswalt and Cole Hamels, they probably won't want to go as high as needed.

The Red Sox are not well-positioned either because of the contracts for Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey and Josh Beckett. They would have to trade one of those three to think about being in the picture, but Boston is very creative and should not be counted out.

WILD CARDS WITH LITTLE CHANCE: Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles

The Nationals think they are in the running. The problem for them is: Does Lee think so? Like the Cubs, they likely would have to overload Lee with a truck full of money that could take the soon-to-be-33-year-old to his 40th birthday.

Buck Showalter's Orioles might feel as if they are one player away. In the AL East, Baltimore needs to do something a little crazy to compete with the Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. The reason they probably won't be in it at the end is because, well, they are the Orioles and their team president, Andy MacPhail, has never been big on long-term contracts for pitchers.

FAKERS: New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers

Both teams might show a little interest to appease their fans, but neither will spend the money. While Lee would make sense for any team, the Mets probably need to get their house in order before they spend so grandly on a difference-maker. Again, with the Mets and -- to a lesser extent -- the Dodgers, why would Lee want to go there?

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

More from ESPNNewYork.com

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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