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Cliff Notes

Well, I keep trying to write a Cliff Lee post and the latest news keeps changing. Yesterday the reported rumor, which remains unconfirmed, was that two “mystery teams,” not the Yankees or Rangers, were willing to offer a seven year contract. This seems hard to swallow, however, since at that point the Yankees hadn’t even been given the chance to make an official offer. Today, we heard that New York may be plotting a six-year, $140-150 million offer, which sounds to me much more probable, but also like the outer edge of reasonableness. By now they may well have made it. And in his Winter Meetings press conference today, Joe Girardi called Lee “everything you want” and described him as “important” to the Yankees’ plans.

I wouldn’t be too upset if the Yanks miss out on Lee – as Cliff Corcoran and others have pointed out this offseason, there’s very good reason to be wary of signing a pitcher like Lee to a big, long term contract. It would help the Yankees next year but likely trip them up by 2015, if not sooner. And while I would love to watch Cliff Lee pitch every five days, because the man is an artist, I just don’t know that it will justify the long-term price.

Anyway, the absolute latest news is that Lee’s agent is leaving the winter meetings (with the cryptic words “We’re going somewhere.” Right. I hope he meant “we’re getting somewhere,” but that’s only slightly more illuminating). So nobody knows anything yet.

Wait — scratch that: bowing to their destiny, the Royals have signed Jeff Francoeur, just as you knew they would. Bring on the equally inevitable epic Posnanski post!

UPDATE: The Yankees did indeed make an offer today, widely reported as six years and in the neighborhood of $140 million. I’ll be curious to see if there really was any “mystery team” out there willing to go seven years.

Categories:  Emma Span  Hot Stove

Tags:  2010 winter meetings  cliff lee  Joe Posnanski

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1 Sliced Bread   ~  Dec 8, 2010 4:05 pm

For now, I'm firmly entrenched in "Camp GetCliffLeeNow,ToHellWith2011Payroll&2015Roster Construction."
It's becoming a cold and lonely place to spend the winter, and this talk of 7 year contracts has me thinking about breaking camp and moving back indoors where the rest of you are warming yourselves by throwing 4 and 5 year contracts on the fire.

I'd do 6 years, $20 mill tops. This team is built to win now, with a rapidly aging core. Cliff Lee gives the team the best chance of winning championships the next 2-3 years. That's why I'd go the extra miles to get him now.

Plus, I'm a total sucker for lefty ace types. I promise I won't ask for another one next year.

2 Emma Span   ~  Dec 8, 2010 5:03 pm

[1] Heh.

Yeah, I do love watching Lee play (still get a warm fuzzy feeling when I think of that lackadaisical behind-the-back catch he made in the '09 Series, with the little shrug after). So it's not like I'd be upset if they got him. But... 7 years? Yipes.

Then again if Andy Pettitte really is going to retire (and I'll believe that when I see it), I shudder to think.

3 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 8, 2010 5:03 pm

[1] I doubt six years at $20 million gets it done. More like $23-25 million per year seems likely.

4 Sliced Bread   ~  Dec 8, 2010 5:25 pm

[3] I'd go those extra dollars per year, but really 6 year is enough, agreed?

[2] yeah, hopefully Andy won't retire - but if he's going to, let's hope he waits until the Lee deal is done. If he wanted to do the Yankees a favor, he could suggest now that he's leaning towards coming back. That could help the Yanks a little in the Lee negotiations. Maybe keep a little change in the ash tray for bullpen help, etc.

5 Emma Span   ~  Dec 8, 2010 5:38 pm

Incidentally, Francoeur-to-the-Royals was on my Hot Stove Wish List from a month ago. Cross one off...!


6 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 8, 2010 5:51 pm

[4] As the contract gets longer though, you can give more real dollars and not increase the present value. In fact, I put together a little post about just that :) Basically, Yanks can offer $150 for six or $165 for seven and it works out close to the same in present value.

7 Sliced Bread   ~  Dec 8, 2010 5:52 pm

[5] you've been on a roll since your "a Molina will kill you in your sleep this October" prediction. I know the Frenchy et les Royales thing was more of a wish than a prediction, but just the same.

8 Sliced Bread   ~  Dec 8, 2010 5:53 pm

[6] very interesting point. I'll check out your post.

9 Emma Span   ~  Dec 8, 2010 6:11 pm

[7] Ha! I may need to borrow the line "a Molina will kill you in your sleep." You know, for next October...

10 Yankster   ~  Dec 8, 2010 6:35 pm

[6] How did you decide on 12% on your present value calculation. When I've done the same thing on this site I've used 3% and I'd argue that over the next seven years (based on the spread between long treasuries and TIPS) that the rate should be closer to 2%. Which changes the calculation quite a lot. Glad you brought it up. I've been wondering if the current near deflation environment would change long-term contracts, but it doesn't seem to have had any impact at all.

11 RIYank   ~  Dec 8, 2010 7:59 pm

From Chad Jennings, Brian Cashman's answer to a question about Cliff Lee:

“I may have made an official offer,” he said. “I’m just deciding not to admit whether I have or haven’t. For some reason.”

Exactly 20 seconds went by.

“Yeah, we’ve made an offer,” Cashman said. “You guys have worn me out.”

12 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 8, 2010 8:52 pm

[10] Until recently, 12% was the approximate historical CAGR of the S&P 500, so that's what stuck in my mind. Coming out of a recession, one might expect an even greater CAGR, but there are no guarantees. Jumbo CDs might be a tick above 3% now, so I guess you could use that as a baseline. Of course, investment doesn't have to mean a financial security, but instead the Yankees' expected ROI for any use of cashflow.

As for inflation/deflation, I am not sure that really applies here because the the main cost of doing business for a baseball team are players salaries, and those usually don't track the typical indicators.

13 monkeypants   ~  Dec 8, 2010 9:43 pm

I sure hope Lee carries them to the promised land next season, because I've got a real bad feelng about Lee foing forward.

14 monkeypants   ~  Dec 8, 2010 9:43 pm

13) or even "going forward."

15 Bruce Markusen   ~  Dec 8, 2010 11:17 pm

Whenever I hear the words "mystery team," I immediately think that'sw bogus. I find it hard to believe that any teams have made Lee a seven-year offer.

Maybe the mystery team is in the Japanese Leagues.

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