The drop-off between Cliff Lee and the rest of the free agent starting pitching market is sizable, and that allows the left-hander a certain amount of comfort as his representatives approach the task of securing a large contract this winter.
Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, told The Associated Press on Monday that his camp is only “gathering information” at this point, and that no deal is expected to be reached quickly.
“This one certainly is a little bit unique in that he’s clearly the best player on the free-agent market and not a lot of other things are going to impact our position on Cliff,” Braunecker said.
Braunecker may not even attend next week’s General Manager’s meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., not needing to drum up interest in Lee. There is also no need to take Lee on a tour of the cities where he could pitch next year.
The Yankees and Rangers are thought to be among his most interested suitors, while the Phillies, Brewers, Cubs, Nationals and Angels could also jump in. Lee’s eventual contract may be a five or six year deal, worth upwards of the $23 million per season the Yankees are paying CC Sabathia.
“We’re going to take it on of kind of a team-by-team, case-by-case basis. I don’t expect Cliff to be flying all over the country,” Braunecker said. “We’re really in just the infancy stages of it all. We don’t really ever handicap the timing of any of this stuff. We believe that when the right deal presents itself, we’ll be prepared to act. And when that might be, that’s anybody’s guess at this point.”