Yankees make offer to Cliff Lee

Updated: December 9, 2010, 3:41 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

The New York Yankees are getting down to business in their pursuit of free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee.

"We have made an offer," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Wednesday evening.

A source had told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, left the winter meetings Wednesday afternoon.

"[Braunecker] is flying back to Arkansas to consult with Cliff and Cliff's wife," Cashman said. "We'll see. He's got all the information he needs from us and I assume he has all the information from anyone else who has an oar in the water.

"I know we are right on the player. If he picks us, I hope he is right on us."

Cashman said the Yankees were prepared to be patient with Lee's decision-making process.

"This is someone who is worth the wait," he said.

Cashman declined to offer details about the Yankees' offer, but sources told ESPNNewYork.com and ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that the initial offer was for six years and near $140 million -- numbers that fall between the contracts for the New York Mets' Johan Santana (6 years, $137.5 million) and the Yankees' CC Sabathia (7 years, $161 million).

The Yankees may eventually be willing to go to $25 million per season for Lee, according to a baseball official. With the Red Sox reportedly coming to terms with free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford, Lee and Braunecker have even more leverage to get to $25 million per season and possibly seven years. The Yankees have been hesitant to offer Lee seven years

Lee remains the Yankees' No. 1 target. On Wednesday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi called him the "complete package."

"Cliff Lee has been the prize of this offseason and we will continue to pursue him," Girardi said.

Braunecker said Wednesday that one club is no longer involved in the Lee sweepstakes. He wouldn't say which team had been eliminated. However, it's not the Texas Rangers, who met with Braunecker for about 30 minutes Wednesday.

Rangers president Nolan Ryan told ESPNDallas.com on Wednesday night that the Rangers have asked Braunecker to let them know what it will take to sign Lee. Ryan expects it will take six years to sign him and the club will consider doing that. He added that he thinks he could hear something from Lee's camp in the next 48 hours.

The Los Angeles Angels have also reached out to representatives for the free-agent left-hander, a source told Crasnick.

"We've had productive meetings," said Braunecker. "They're still in the mix."

Earlier Wednesday, Braunecker said his group knew more than it did on Tuesday in terms of negotiations involving Lee.

"We've eliminated a club and have zeroed in on a few things," Braunecker said.

The Yankees haven't pressured Andy Pettitte in any way to make a decision if he's going to retire or not. But they clearly would like to know his plans one way or the other. Pettitte earned $11.75 million last season.

Cashman spoke with Pettitte on Wednesday. Pettitte said he wants the Yankees to get Lee. While Pettitte didn't indicate whether he will retire or not, Cashman thinks he will eventually return because Pettitte always has.

Cashman said there is enough money for Lee and Pettitte.

"I never have a problem knocking on [owner Hal Steinbrenner's] door and asking for money," Cashman said. "I have a problem sometimes with Hal saying, 'Yes.' I know my title is general manager, but I consider myself the director of spending of the New York Yankees. I don't make it, I spend it."

Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark and Jerry Crasnick, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon, ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett and ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes and Joe McDonald was used in this report.

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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