It seemed that the Yankees would be the favorite to keep Cliff Lee once the ALCS started. That theory has since changed. The Rangers upset the Yankees in six games thanks to the heroics of Lee and the rest of the Rangers. Lee dominated the Yankees in his game three start, going eight innings of two hit, no run ball. The Rangers then went to the World Series and Cliff Lee may want to stay as a Ranger.
Although Lee struggled in the World Series against the eventual champion San Francisco Giants, he still shared many memories while being with the Texas Rangers. He won game one and the clinching game five against the AL East Champion Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series. And like we said before he dominated the Yanks in the ALCS. And Lee also got to bond with his teammates, something that may be hard to let go. Yes, the Yankees have offered him an absurd seven year, 160 million dollar contract, but the Rangers have offered him a ‘menu’ of contracts. No one knows how much the contracts are worth, or for how long, but I’m sure they are close to what the Yankees offer. Plus, Lee lives in Arkansas, much closer to Arlington then the Bronx. Also, the Rangers are a young club, unlike the Yankees. And with that the Yankees may be closer to the cellar then the top of the division come the sixth or seventh year of Lee’s potential contract--due to the older stars such as Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, CC Sabathia, A.J Burnett, among others. I have a feeling that Cliff Lee may sign with the Rangers, although I am not 100% sure.
So, with that the Yankees should at least ponder some backup plans. And there are plenty. First, the trade market. The big glamor player is Zack Greinke; I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole. First of all, the Yankees would have to trade an abundance of good young talent, and Yankee GM Brian Cashman doesn’t like to do that. For example, following the 2007 season the Yankees could have traded Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Melky Cabrera to the Twins for ace Johan Santana. He didn’t. Santana got sent to Queens with the Mets and has had injury problems. Again in 2008, the Yankees could have traded for ace CC Sabathia when he was with Cleveland. Like the Santana deal the Yankees had to give up a load of talent to just get the star pitcher, they would also have to obviously pay that pitcher a big contract. The Yankees instead waited until he was a free agent, and then sign him. By the way, the Yankees won it all in 2009, Sabathia’s first year with the team. But, my second point is that Zack Greinke has had a history of anxiety issues. He spent a number of times on the disabled list due to those troubles, preceding his CY Young run in 2009. I don’t like that because he was, and still is, pitching in a small market in Kansas City. Just imagine him having issues like that with the Yankees, and you thought A.J Burnett and Randy Johnson were bad.
Also, the Yankees could try to go within to find their next starter. Ivan Nova was solid starting for the Yankees in September, posting a 4.50 ERA, while pitching in big situations. Nova is blessed with tremendous talent. He has a 94 plus mile per hour fastball, with sink. He has a big 12-6 curveball, and a very good changeup, along with an improving slider. I personally believe Ivan Nova will have a better career then Phil Hughes, who has made an All Star team and pitched in big games. I’d take Ivan Nova over Zack Greinke if I was the Yankees any day.
Those are essentially the two options the Yankees have. The free agent market has next to nothing following Cliff Lee in the starting pitching department. Also, the Yankees will by trying to convince Andy Pettitte to pitch “one more year.” We’ll see, it should be very interesting. But with the Boston Red Sox adding slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and speedy leftfielder Carl Crawford to the mix, the signing of Cliff Lee is even more important for the Bombers.