Rangers will know soon if they can woo Lee
Executives to meet Braunecker in Arkansas on Thursday night
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Rangers expect to know by Thursday night whether they'll be able to sign ace left-hander Cliff Lee or not -- the result of a meeting in Arkansas consisting of agent Darek Braunecker, Lee, chief executive officer Chuck Greenberg and assistant general manager Thad Levine.
Braunecker left the Winter Meetings on Wednesday at the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort to return to Arkansas and confer with his client. Levine and Greenberg were headed there on Thursday in advance of that night's meeting.In terms of the negotiations for Lee, the Rangers were hoping to hear from Braunecker what it would take to re-sign the left-hander, but the agent has no interest in that. He said the Rangers have to submit an offer for Lee, just like any other team. "We have no interest in participating in the unconventional negotiating style the club has requested," Braunecker told ESPN.com early Thursday morning. "For the player to submit an offer to the club ... that's not the way the process works."
A Rangers source said the executives' trip does not signify that a deal is close at hand. General manager Jon Daniels declined to discuss the specifics of the negotiations."I'm not talking about player negotiations," Daniels said. "You can draw your own conclusions. He's got a number of attractive options. We're one of them. We just have to wait and see." But it is clear that the negotiations are super-heating. The morning after Rangers president Nolan Ryan said his club would be willing to offer Lee a six-year contract, there were rumors circulating through the Winter Meetings that the Yankees would offer seven years. That's two years more than the Rangers originally planned to offer when they arrived at the Winter Meetings. Texas felt it was making a major concession by proposing six years, and now, that may not be enough. "Is it disappointing that it's gone this high? Yes," Ryan said. "But it's not surprising. We knew the Yankees were going to be aggressive." The Rangers' negotiating team is expected to convey to Braunecker that the club will offer at least six years. They aren't likely to go seven. The Rangers weren't too optimistic on Thursday that they will be able to re-sign Lee, but they are willing to give it at least one more try.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.