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Report: the Yankees to offer Cliff Lee six-year deal, worth $140-150 million

Dec 8, 2010, 11:20 AM EDT

Cliff Lee

The man who has insisted that there are multiple seven-year offers for Cliff Lee — Jon Heyman — reports this morning that, to the extent they exist, they may be mooted by a big offer from the Yankees: six years, $140-150 million.

There are many around the lobby here today who believe that for all of the stuff said about Arkansas, and all of the stuff said about wanting a long deal, Lee really wants the most money.  I know. I’m shocked too. At the top end — $25 million a year — this offer could easily be richer than any seven-year deal out there, the dollars of which no one has reported.

All of that said, many likewise believe that even if this offer does come today, Lee won’t agree to anything for a few more days. Not like we won’t tell you if that changes of course …

  1. uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    Six years $140 or $150M where do I sign. The hot potato if the above piece is correct is now in the Rangers court. Do they make a 5 or 6 year offer for $120M total and hope Lee likes the Ryan’s and the short plain ride from Tx. to Little Rock more then the money or move on to plan “b”?

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:57 PM

      I picture Nolan Ryan punching Cashman in the nose right now…..

  2. BC - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:37 AM


  3. bigharold - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    Craig, .. really?

    “Jon Heyman – reports this morning…”

    In the last Cliff Lee post didn’t you go out of your way to say how unreliable Heyman’s sources can be?

    “There are many around the lobby here today who believe that for all of the stuff said about Arkansas, and all of the stuff said about wanting a long deal, Lee really wants the most money. I know. I’m shocked too.

    As is often said on WSPN “Come on Man!”

    What happens on the field is baseball, .. everything else is business. You bash Jeter because the Yankees leaked what he was asking for and now you suggest that Lee has been less than honest because he may well take the largest contract.

    When a front office does something like what the RS are doing, waiting to formalize the Gonzalez extension so as to not have it count against this year’s luxury tax” there’re celebrated for their business acumen. When a player makes a decision based on money or his long term financial benefit he’s a lying greedy slob? Lee is likely making this decision based on what’s best for his family, including the money. Nobody really knows the calculus involved therefore nobody should question or suggest the motives, especially before he makes his choice. But, if that were the case you’d have to go back to practicing law.

    • professorperry - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:54 AM

      I’m offering Cliff Lee TEN years and TEN dollars to come be the pitching coach for the River Forest Little League team! It’s MORE years, so I expect he’ll call.

      • bigharold - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:59 AM

        You might have to throw in pizza and sodas after the game. At a minimum juice boxes and Doritos. That’s the going rate on Long Island.

    • wickethewok - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:00 PM

      “When a player makes a decision based on money or his long term financial benefit he’s a lying greedy slob?”

      You’ve got to be Rumpelstiltskin the way you’re spinning those straw men.

      • bigharold - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:06 PM

        And your point is?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:06 PM

      Heyman is unreliable when he talks about offers with “mystery teams.” This one is connected to a specific team. And FWIW, afterward some other reporters confirmed it. I didn’t include those confirmations here, I’ll admit, but there was reason to believe Heyman when he wrote this.

      As for Jeter/Lee: I bashed Jeter because he was looking for money that was completely divorced from reality, not because he was weighing his contract based on money. There’s a difference.

      And I don’t think Lee is being less than honest. People who have talked about Arkansas and all of that have been people other than Lee. And if you search the archives, I’ve been skeptical of all of that for some time.

      And my saying now that Lee is likely to accept the biggest offer is not a value judgment. Good for him. I have no problem with that at all. I never called Lee a “lying greedy slob.” I defy you to find any time I’ve said that about any player.

      • bigharold - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:36 PM

        “I bashed Jeter because he was looking for money that was completely divorced from reality,..”

        You bashed him because you could. it was an easy target thanks to the Yankee front office. Considering the deals the Yankees have given lately it’s not hard to see Jeter’s point. Not so much the A-Rod deal, but one could use that too, as the Posada one. He was given a 4 year deal at almost the same age. The only things that age worse than a mid 30’s SS is a mid 30’s catcher. And, I thought that the initial Yankee offer was generous and just about spot on.

        “I never called Lee a “lying greedy slob.” I defy you to find any time I’ve said that about any player.”

        No you just said; “..Lee really wants the most money. I know. I’m shocked too.” You merely inferred it. Clearly you think he’s being less than honest.

        The point here is baseball is a business but the only people that take any heat for making decisions that are seemingly based on the most money are the players. While I don’t think just because a guy plays a few years of professional baseball he should never have to work again in his life, I also don’t not look at them any differently than an owner. If anything players have a very finite existence and if they’re lucky they get maybe one shot to take advantage of it. Mostly, I don’t presume to know what part of the equation that money versus quality of life or career opportunity or chance to play in/win a world series occupies. Nor do you so I would think that until he actually makes a decision you’d be a bit more circumspect when it comes to casting doubt on his motivations.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:53 PM

        “You bashed him because you could”

        Is that how this works? You accuse me of something, I refute it, and you simply ignore it? I told you why I was critical of Jeter’s demands. There are a dozen or more posts on this blog in which my basis is clearly stated. You could choose to believe those things or you can just be a douche an say empty, pithy things like that. You choose the former because you’re being a douche (see what I did there?).

        The “I know, I’m shocked too” was not my suggesting that Lee was less than honest. Lee has never gone on record saying what his motivations and desires were. Many people — writers mostly — have suggested non-monetary reasons why he might choose things other than money. When it is suggested that Lee wants the largest contract, it is those people — not Lee — who I am criticizing.

        Though your m.o. appears to be to ignore what people say I’m sure you’ll once again ignore this, but I have no problem with players seeking the highest contract. I am very pro-union and I think players should do the absolute best they can do if that’s what they want. You are misreading what I said. There is no value judgment to what I said. Merely mock-shock that the “he wants to be near Arkansas” crowd are apparently being debunked.

        And I “inferred” nothing. What you are claiming I did is to “imply” something. An inference is what one thinks. When one speaks and tries to create meaning in the minds of others, they ‘imply.” Given how driven you are to parse others’ language to find imaginary meanings, you really need to know that.

      • JBerardi - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:58 PM

        “You bashed him because you could.”


      • Adam - Dec 8, 2010 at 1:35 PM

        I personally love how a ton of the arguments over Jeter’s salary involve how they’ve overpaid in the past. All it does is admit they’d be overpaying him and imply that the front office is dumb enough to continue past actions. Seems like they’d be the guys you DON’T want making your decisions if they did that.

      • bigharold - Dec 8, 2010 at 1:59 PM

        YES!. You based Jeter because you could. Because you didn’t agree with what he was asking for and because you clearly thought it was “good for business” as evidenced by the following;

        Yankee Stadium is the Louvre, Jeter its Mona Lisa. Really, someone said that.
        Craig Calcaterra
        Dec 3, 2010, 5:30 PM EST
        “The return to calm and quiet PR-friendly negotiations between the Yankees and Derek Jeter is easily the worst thing to happen this week.”

        Buster Olney thinks Jeter will sign today
        Craig Calcaterra
        Dec 3, 2010, 10:30 AM EST
        “Gosh, I hope not. I fell like I have a couple dozen more Derek Jeter posts in me. It’d be a shame if they went to waste”

        The Yankees sweeten their offer to Jeter. Of course, this is all theater.
        Craig Calcaterra
        Dec 2, 2010, 4:01 PM EST

        Of course Jeter is worth $20 million! Count the rings!
        Craig Calcaterra
        Dec 1, 2010, 1:00 PM EST
        “No, that’s not parody. That’s the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan:”
        “Just do me a favor: if I ever start writing stuff that seems calculated to give you what I think you want instead of what I truly think, please, steer me towards the Old Bloggers Home and let me live out the rest of my days where I can’t do any harm to myself or others.


        The Yankees may go up to $51 million on Jeter; add a fourth year option
        Craig Calcaterra
        Dec 1, 2010, 8:45 AM EST
        “But however this shakes out, a face-to-face meeting followed by a report reflecting calmness and (so far) no incendiary leaks to the media suggests that Jeter and the Yankees have started fresh, with an eye towards restoring sanity to the process.
        And that’s good news for everyone except the bloggers”

        And, that’s only the last week or so.

        For a guy that makes his “living” offering up his opinion in a “humorous” and or sarcastic manner, which ever best suits his purpose, in a public forum you are more than a bit thin skinned. In fact one might say a bit of a “douche”. I just think you can be a colossal ass when you want to be and you do seem to trying hard today.

        You are correct about one thing; I should have said you implied that Lee was being less than honest, because you did.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:10 PM

        How is defending myself when you criticize me being “thin skinned?” I should just let you continue to misrepresent what I said? Fine, if that’s being thin skined, then I’m thin skinned.

        And yes, those are all things I said. And all of them eventually led to the point I made before: that Jeter’s demands were unreasonable. While I freely admit that there was a nice congruence between a popular and fun blog topic (Jeter) and my criticism (the nature of his demands), I would not simply invent a criticism for the sake of making a post. That is what you claim I did, and it is simply not true.

  4. billtpa - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    It seems like, based on the New York city and state income tax, the Rangers could come $14 or $15 million under those figures and still be making equivalent offers. So his taking a 6 year, $120-mil offer from Texas wouldn’t be completely crazy (assuming the Yankees’ offer is on the low end of the above range, at least).

    • uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:09 PM

      Billtpa – According to experts they calculate the difference is about 10% of the total value of the contract. Based on their calculations if the Yankees do offer $140M for a comparable contract the Rangers would have to offer about $126M.
      What experts (marketing people/advertises) also say that the 10% difference the Rangers enjoy would be more then offset by endorsement opportunities Lee would sign in NY versus Texas. That’s not to say Lee wouldn’t get endorsements in Texas it only acknowledges that the value of those endorsements in the NY market are far greater.
      Bottom line if the Rangers want or think they need to be in the same “ballpark” to sign Lee they need to be very close to the same offer as the Yankees. That is unless they think the “Lee likes Nolan’s and closeness to Ark.” are the determining factor. One thing I can say for sure is $14 or $15M per over 6 years from the Rangers will NOT get it done.

    • waverly17 - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:14 PM

      The whole tax angle is completely misguided. MLB players pay state tax for all of the cities they play their away games in. Texas players only get the “no state income tax discount” on the 50% of the games played at home, so it becomes a negligible amount of money when comparing offers.

      • mtner77 - Dec 8, 2010 at 1:51 PM


        Nonsense. If you live and work in, say Oregon for instance, and your company sends you to a three day seminar in, say, Chicago, you are not suddenly subjected to three days of your salary being taxed in Illinois. Why? Because you work in Oregon, for an Oregon based company, and you are paid in Oregon.

        By your theory, all the GM’s down in Orlando this week are now subject to three day’s of their anual salary being taxed in Florida. Oh, and Craig’s too. (Ask Craig if he plans to file state income tax in Florida this year?)

      • Reflex - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:20 PM

        Waverly is technically correct, and yes most states do hit professional atheletes with these taxes. And there is a movement afoot now by states to collect these taxes on people from other professions as well. Its known as the “Jock Tax” and most states with an income tax attempt to collect it.

  5. phukyouk - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    If this is in fact true then it will be one of the worst deals that cashman makes in his entire Yankees history. this guy is sofa king overrated. he has had 2.5 decent seasons. cashman sucks.

    • billtpa - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:03 PM

      Um, he’s had three consecutive great seasons.

      • Reflex - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:58 PM

        Maybe you missed the part last season where he was out for the first month. Or maybe that other part where after going to Texas he pretty much was league average. 2.5 great seasons, perhaps. Three consecutive great seasons? No. He had two fantastic seasons and one middling one. And is injury prone. I still maintain anyone giving him more than three years will regret it.

      • Ari Collins - Dec 8, 2010 at 1:29 PM

        a) he missed the first month and still pitched 210 innings. Guy is a stud.

        b) Anyone who claims he was league average in Texas hasn’t looked very deeply at all. The only way you could think he’s league average is if you only ever look at one statistic, ERA, and don’t even consider the context of that one stat.

      • Reflex - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:16 PM

        Yes, he has a penchant for finishing games the past two seasons. That said, he did so mostly with the M’s, in nearly the same number of innings for the Rangers he only finished 2 games compared to the 5 he finished for the M’s. His ERA, which you correctly identified as not the end-all/be-all stat its often taken for, is still a reasonable indicator. With the M’s it was 2.34, with the Rangers it was 3.98.

        More troubling was his home/road splits, which would heavily favor the early season performance with the M’s in Safeco. His ERA at home last season was 2.79, but on the road a still good but not nearly as elite 3.53. Also, after moving from Safeco to Arlington his WHIP rose, its still excellent, but not as good as it was with the M’s. I’d also point out that the extraordinarily low walk totals are a recent incident in his career, he only stopped walking batters in the middle of 2009, before that while his K/BB was very good(3.24 in the first half of 2009 before the trade), last year’s 10.28 was wildly out of step with his career and mostly built on his first half with the M’s(declined from 14.83 to 8.00 with the Rangers).

        Lee, when healthy, is certainly an ace on any staff. But the fact remains that he is not a durable pitcher, he is 32, and as recently as 2007 he had to go to the minors to work on his mechanics. His revival has coincided with his time in the National League, which of course is much more pitcher friendly, and then his trade to the best pitcher’s park in the AL. With the Indians aside from one Cy Young season, he was an above average #2 type pitcher, and with the Rangers that was also the case.

        Any team that signs him will appreciate his professionalism, and the fact that he can generally be counted on for a quality start and to eat innings when healthy. But expecting him to be the #1 is probably unrealistic in the AL unless the home park is Oakland or Safeco. His career averages speak to a solid #2, and being as he is getting older by the third year of any deal that would be his upside potential.

        I have no doubt, however that he’s getting a six year or better deal. Sanity never prevails. And if the home park is Yankee Stadium, The Ballpark at Arlington or Fenway Park, well, just remember John Lackey and don’t be suprised when it turns out very similiar.

      • phukyouk - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:18 PM

        he had a GREAT 2008. a totally crappy first half of 09 until he got traded to the NL. a good second half of 09. missed the first month of 10. pitched will in the next 2 months. was avg at BEST on the rangers. so yea.. 2.5 decent seasons. oh he was also sent down to the minors in 07 and almost released.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:56 PM

        Gentleman – Lee being a left handed pitcher will be facing mostly right handed batter batters in Yankee Stadium. Many if not most batters are pull hitters. The dimensions of Yankee Stadium and Safeco on the left side are not that dissimilar with the exception of right down the line.
        Yankee Stadium:
        Left Field (down the line): 318
        Left Center: 399
        Center Field: 408
        Right Center: 385
        Right Field (down the line): 314

        Left Field (down the line): 331
        Left Center: 390
        Center Field: 405
        Right Center: 385
        Right Field (down the line): 326

        The dimensions of the Rangers Park in Arlington is very similar to Safeco as well.

        As people can see with the exception of the yardage down each line the fields dimension of the outfield fences are pretty darn close.

        I guess if Lee pitches the way he’s capable of pitching and the way he has pitched the last few years I wouldn’t expect that much of an uptick in his stats. But whether a player is given 4 years or 6 years it’s all a crap shoot anyway.

      • Reflex - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:30 PM

        His stats say otherwise. Whether or not a park is a ‘pitchers’ or ‘hitters’ park is not only determined by the dimensions of the field. Its also how the fences are aligned, how close to sea level it is, what the wind patterns are, how high the fences are, and on and on. Yankee Stadium and Arlington have both become renowned hitters parks. Safeco and Petco are the two most extreme pitchers parks in the game. Also, in the AL East he would have to spend a much more significant amount of time in other hitters parks, such as Fenway. Cliff Lee is also historically a fly ball pitcher, which harms him even more in these types of parks(but helps him considerably in parks like Safeco where not only does the park swallow up long fly balls, but the outfield is elite defensively).

        I’m sorry, but any way you cut it, when you look at Lee’s actual stats he does not pitche well over an extended period of time in AL pitchers parks. He pitches exceptionally well in the NL, or parks where fly ball pitchers thrive.

        And there is a huge difference between a 4 year deal and a 6 year deal. You can hope that a 32 year old pitcher will stay healthy until he is 36 and come out ahead most of the time. In a 6 year deal, expect to lose at least 2 seasons worth of pitching to injury. Might as well have signed him for 4 years in the first place, because thats the production you’ll end up with.

      • billtpa - Dec 8, 2010 at 4:03 PM

        Three great seasons. There’s no way to slice it that it comes out any differently. He was great in over 200 innings in each of 2008, 2009 and 2010.

        I especially like the guy who said he had a “totally crappy first half” in the AL in 2009. That’s just incredibly lazy in addition to being dumb. I’m going to assume you’re not into looking at things like FIP (or you wouldn’t need any convincing on Lee), so: 152 IP, 3.14 ERA with Cleveland, 80 IP, 3.39 ERA with Philly. I guess you think he sucked because he had a 7-9 “record” (with a team that went 42-60)?

        So, he was probably the single best pitcher in his league in 2008 and 2010, and in 2009 (when he split leagues anyway) he’d have to settle for being in the top 5 or so of MLB. But, yeah, toats overrated.

      • Reflex - Dec 8, 2010 at 4:25 PM

        bill – I’m not one who believes in Wins at all, and I do agree with most of the advanced stat metrics. Its besides the point. The point I am making is that he pitches very well in the NL and in AL pitchers parks. Definite ace. But his record outside of those environments, while still good, is *not* worth what is being offered. His career averages tell a much different story than his past two and a half seasons. And those three years were in his prime, which he is now exiting. Plus he’s injury prone.

        At the end of the day, he is not worth $23 million plus for six or seven years. Any team that signs him to more than four will regret it at the dollar figures being bandied about. And nothing you or anyone has presented so far counters my assertion on this.

    • yankees1996 - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:22 PM

      Be careful man your Red Sux is showing!

      • phukyouk - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:25 PM


  6. jkay123 - Dec 8, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    I don’t know why a lot of you will be shocked by this? There were texas fans on here 3 days ago saying he’d never leave there..One fan was “dude loves tx” “dude is close to arkansa” “dudes wife” Money talks “dude”

  7. hardjudge - Dec 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    I am a Texas fan, but “the dude” should take the best financial offer and run with it. If some team, NY, Texas or somebody else pays him more than he is worth, that is their problem. With 140 – 150 million he can do a lot of hunting and fishing for the rest of his life.

  8. Jonny 5 - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    It’s as clear to me that Big Harold can’t stand Craig, as much as it’s clear that a politics/ sports blog is an awesome idea… How many hits have you had on that other post so far??

    • bigharold - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:38 PM

      Not so. Actually, I don’t mind him at all. At least he argues back. If one is Irish, and I am, it’s a trait to be admired for, .. even if he’s wrong.

      • brintfarvruhsux - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:24 PM

        How do you type so well given that you must be drunk?

      • bigharold - Dec 8, 2010 at 7:07 PM


      • handsfour - Dec 9, 2010 at 2:17 AM

        Huh? After calling him thin-skinned, a douche, and a colossal ass at times? I’d hate to see what you call people you do mind. Is ripping people just amusement for you?

    • bigharold - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:43 PM

      Not nearly as many hits as the Luke Scott post.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:54 PM

        Harold, I was talking about the Luke Scott post. It may just light NBC’s computer system on fire.

      • bigharold - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:56 PM

        Oh, … never mind.

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