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Cliff Lee Likely Headed To Free Agency

Cliff Lee made his 2010 season debut last night, but at this point his agent appears to be looking ahead to the offseason. ESPN's Buster Olney spoke to Lee's agent Darek Braunecker, who indicated that his client is likely going to test the free agent waters after the season.

"We're five months away from free agency," said Braunecker, "so I think that's the most likely scenario at this point."

"We've not really had any significant discussions with Seattle. I wouldn't anticipate a deal [with the Mariners]."

With Josh Beckett signing an extension with the Red Sox, Lee is inarguably the top starter available on the free agent market next year. Back in March we heard that the lefty was likely to wait until after the season to discuss any kind of long-term deal with Seattle, so this latest news isn't really anything new. 

If he repeats his 2008 and 2009 effort this season (2.89 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 1.5 BB/9), Lee would have a good chance of eclipsing the five year, $82.5MM contracts signed by A.J. Burnett and John Lackey in the last two offseasons, but it's unlikely he'll match CC Sabathia's seven year, $161MM pact.

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