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Cliff Lee Rumors: Thursday

10:43am: According to Jim Duquette of Sirius XM Radio (Twitter link), Lee "told people around the club" that Tuesday's start may have been his last as a Mariner.

8:20am: The Rangers' acquisition of Bengie Molina might be a preview of how Texas could work out a deal for Cliff Lee, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The team's financial situation didn't prevent them from adding Molina because they didn't take on any salary in the process, which is a strategy they'll likely try to employ again in negotiations for Lee.

In a series of tweets, Olney explains how the Rangers avoided a payroll increase in the Molina deal, and speculates that the Mariners could be persuaded to provide the Rangers salary relief in a Lee trade for a stronger package of prospects. Rosenthal agrees, writing that Texas is "so loaded with prospects" that a cash-neutral deal is a possibility for them. He also cites major-league sources who say that the club is "pushing hard" for Lee.

It remains to be seen, of course, if the Rangers would be willing to part with multiple top prospects for what would likely be a two- or three-month rental of the left-hander. In yesterday's round of Lee rumors, we heard that a few rival GMs think the Rangers would be better off holding onto those prospects.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reiterates that if the Rangers do make a deal for pitching, they'll be aiming for a top-tier arm like Lee or Roy Oswalt rather than an "everyman starter." Grant notes that Fausto Carmona could be a possibility as well, with the Rangers scouting the right-hander's start against the Blue Jays earlier this week.








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