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12/09/10 12:04 AM EST
Ryan: Rangers need answer from Lee's agent
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Rangers, in talking with agent Darek Braunecker, want to know what it will take to re-sign free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee.
Rangers president Nolan Ryan said the club made that request of Braunecker before he left the Winter Meetings on Wednesday to fly back to Arkansas, where he will meet with Lee and his wife Kristen.
The Yankees presented Braunecker with an offer on a six-year contract worth between $140-150 million on Wednesday. The Rangers have not made an official offer, but want to know from Braunecker what Lee is willing to do to stay in Texas.
"We've asked them to give us a number on what it will take for Cliff Lee to come back to the Rangers," Ryan said Wednesday evening. "There is a lot of speculation flying around. We felt what's best in everybody's best interest is to find out what it will take to sign Cliff Lee. We all knew the Yankees would be big players."
The Rangers came to the Winter Meetings not wanting to go more than five years on a contract for Lee. They know now that it will take at least a six-year deal and Ryan said the Rangers are considering that.
"It really comes down to whether we're willing to go six years," Ryan said. "We haven't heard back from them. We are waiting to hear back from them on what it would take to sign him."
Ryan said he is more disposed toward going to six years on Lee more than he was a few days ago.
"The realization is the Yankees are going to six years," Ryan said. "If that's what we're dealing with, we'll have to discuss it. You realize that if you want Cliff Lee to pitch for you, that's what it's going to take."
If the Rangers don't, Lee could end up in New York. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed his club made an offer to Lee on Wednesday during the Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.
"He's somebody worth waiting for," Cashman said. "We hope he picks us. This is somebody who is worth waiting for. I think he's got all the information he needs from us."
The Rangers still believe they are in the process and have not been eliminated from consideration.
"I'd like to think we're still in it," Ryan said. "They have indicated they would like to come back. They're happy [in Texas] and it works for their lifestyle and family."
The Rangers also need to know because if Lee isn't coming back, they need to look at other options. The met with Carl Crawford's agent on Wednesday, only to learn late in the evening that the Red Sox and Crawford had agreed to a seven-year deal worth $142 million.
Texas could decide to upgrade the club in other areas if it doesn't get the starting pitchers that it needs. They acknowledged for the first time their interest in Crawford, but losing him to the Red Sox only reaffirms the Rangers need to get an answer from Lee.
"We want to get better," Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. "There is a possibility we could look to improve our defense, bullpen or offense instead. We're getting to the point where we've got things lined up and are looking at other ways to improve the club. Some things are more impacted by it but not everything.
"They understand what's going on. We're fortunate we haven't made any tough decisions, but things are moving along and we're getting to the point where we have to make decisions."
The Rangers have maintained interest in Royals pitcher Zack Greinke, who is signed for two more years for a total of $27 million. But the two sides are not close to a deal as the Royals want Minor League shortstop Jurickson Profar, outfielder Engel Beltre and either pitcher Martin Perez and/or Tanner Scheppers. The Rangers are particularly reluctant to trade Perez, their top young Minor League pitching prospect.
Crawford was the top position player left on the free-agent market. Texas had interest in Paul Konerko, but he signed a three-year deal worth $37.5 million with the White Sox on Wednesday.
The Rangers still need to find a designated hitter and they are working hard trying to re-sign Vladimir Guerrero. There are signs that Guerrero could drop his demand for a multiyear contract and go back to Texas on a one-year deal. The Rangers met with his agents on Tuesday and will again. But club officials said late Wednesday night that they weren't making progress.
"I couldn't tell you the exact timetable," Daniels said. "Last year, he made his decision in January. He's thoughtful and deliberate and involves other people in his family in the decision. I couldn't say when it will happen."
The Rangers have looked at other options. Magglio Ordonez is a possibility. So too are left-handed hitters Jim Thome and Hideki Matsui.
But much still depends on Lee and the Rangers eagerly await to hear back from Braunecker on what it will take to re-sign him.