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Bidding for Cliff Lee likely to start at $120 million

Nov 21, 2010, 2:15 PM EDT

cliff lee on mound

More from the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo.

The Yankees and Rangers are locked in a battle for left-hander Cliff Lee, this offseason’s top free agent.  And it sounds like the Yanks may strike first with an offer.

Cafardo reports that Brian Cashman and Co. are preparing a proposal worth around $115 million-$120 million over five years.  The Rangers plan to match that and the numbers will go up from there.  Cafardo says that the Nationals are also in the hunt and have been “aggressive” thus far, but this feels like a two-team race.

Lee, 32, registered a 3.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 28 starts for the AL Champion Rangers this year, fanning 185 batters while walking only 18.  There was a report in mid-November that Lee dislikes the Texas heat.  And then there was that issue with Yankees fans harassing Lee’s wife during the ALCS.  Believe what you want, but we’re thinking he’s simply going to chase the most lucrative deal.

For reference, CC Sabathia landed a seven-year, $161 million deal from the Yanks two offseasons ago.

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