Not every sports team as having as rough a time as the Florida Gators. The offseason is in full swing in major league baseball, and a major chess match between two very good teams over one very good player just got a lot more interesting. The New York Yankees and Texas Rangers have been duking it out over the services of free agent left handed pitcher Cliff Lee, who spent the second half of the 2010 season with Texas after being traded by Seattle. Originally it appeared as though the 32 year old pitcher was going to have to choose between two five year contract offers, one from New York and one from Texas. Then there was talk that a sixth year might get added in, or maybe already had been added in. Now the Yankees are being the Yankees and turning things up just another little notch, offering Cliff Lee a seven year contract that would take him to age 39.
No exact terms have been revealed on either team's offer, but the consensus appears to be that the New York offer at the very least would make Cliff Lee the highest paid pitcher in the major leagues, a title currently owned by CC Sabathia, who makes an average of $23 million a year under the terms of his Yankee contract. Experts are divided at this point about which way the hot free agent might go. Both teams are very confident in their chances, or are at least posturing that way in public.
Playoff Tested Left Hander
The one thing about Cliff Lee that makes him so valuable to both teams is the fact that he has been on the sport's biggest stage now for two years running and shown that he can handle it, Granted, Cliff Lee didn't do so hot in the World Series this year against the Giants, but then neither did most of the Texas Rangers. At any rate, his regular season and postseason so far indicate that Cliff Lee is a performer ready for prime time. He will be able to purchase car insurance for all the fans that attend Opening Day for whichever team he chooses, with all the money he is going to end up with.
Rangers vs. Yankees
It is interesting to think about the Rangers and the Yankees and their respective chances going forward. These are the last two AL champs, and the Rangers appear to be a team on the rise while New York is getting a little long in the tooth but still dangerous. Cliff Lee has to decide which team he'd fit better with. Either way, he is going to be very rich, so money is not an issue or shouldn't be one at least. For Cliff Lee, this should be about which team he can help get over the top and win the World Series. He has been to the Fall Classic two years running now, with the Phillies in 2009 and now the Rangers in 2010; but he was on the wrong side of the final outcome in both cases.
Cliff Lee is a world class pitcher and one of the best in the game of baseball. Certainly he is among the top few left handed pitchers in the league. As the offseason wears on, it is fun to watch and wait to see what he is going to do as these two teams that fought in the ALCS now do battle between their general managers and try to secure the services of the player they both covet. Cliff Lee wins no matter which team he chooses, because he makes that team better.