Yankees add additional year to Lee offer
New York in holding pattern until left-hander makes decision
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Less than 24 hours after making their initial offer to Cliff Lee, the Yankees raised the stakes in their pursuit of the left-hander, bettering their bid by adding a seventh year.
Multiple sources reported Thursday that the Yankees departed the Winter Meetings having improved upon their six-year, $140 million proposal to Lee, who is the team's unquestioned top winter priority.
New York general manager Brian Cashman would not discuss the financial terms of the team's offer to Lee, but he said that his other business has essentially halted while he waits to hear back from the pitcher.
"I know what we're willing to do," Cashman said. "The player and his agent know what we're willing to do. We know, they know. That's all that matters. They have the information necessary to put themselves in the position to make a good decision."
Cashman made his first offer to Darek Braunecker on Wednesday, as the agent checked out of the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort to deliver that deal to Lee in Arkansas.
Late Thursday, the Rangers reaffirmed their commitment to signing Lee with a wide-ranging menu of potential contract offers designed to keep the prized left-hander from leaving the fold.
Chuck Greenberg, the team's chief executive officer, led a three-man delegation to Little Rock, Ark., on Thursday in an attempt to entice Lee to commit to Texas.
"We had a very positive discussion," said Greenberg. "We reiterated our strong desire for Cliff to remain a key part of the Rangers family. We reaffirmed our commitment to building a championship caliber team, and we also conveyed a menu of possible offers which represented a substantial additional commitment in terms of both years and dollars."
The Yankees' increased bid came mere hours after the Red Sox landed free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford with a seven-year, $142 million deal. Cashman entertained Crawford over dinner on Tuesday, but New York's interest was cursory at best, viewing him as a Plan B in case the Lee deal didn't work out.
"We never made an offer," Cashman said. "I've reached out to everybody and anybody, but it's not a need for us. We have [Brett] Gardner, we have [Curtis] Granderson, we have [Nick] Swisher. I have a certain amount of money I can spend. I'm going to be aggressive on areas of need, not areas that aren't of need."
Nothing that transpired between Boston and Crawford changed the Yankees' position on Lee, Cashman said.
"Our desire is the same today as it was," Cashman said. "I don't think you can increase it any more. We have a significant interest in Cliff Lee, and we've communicated that. They know it and they're in a position to make some decisions as they collect the information on their end."
Cashman said that he did not have a sense of when Lee and Braunecker might reach out with a response.
"Whenever they make a decision," Cashman said. "I'll just wait to hear from him."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.