Yankees Still Seen As Favorites To Sign Lee For 2011

The city of New York has missed out on both LeBron James and Cliff Lee over the last two days.  In the latter star's case, however, another chance to acquire Lee will likely be coming soon, and many seem to think it's already a fait accompli.

As Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com puts it, "there is still a feeling around baseball that it is a matter of when, not if, Cliff Lee will become a Yankee."  Lee is a free agent at the end of the season and given the uncertainly surrounding the Rangers' ownership situation, it's unknown exactly what the club's payroll or overall financial status will be come winter.  Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (via Twitter) that the Rangers feel they can sign Lee to a long-term deal should the sale of the team be settled, but even with this stability, it means that the Rangers will still need to face the Yankees in a bidding war — a daunting task for any club when pursuing a player that New York truly seems to want.

Even by losing out on Lee now, the Yankees can still win in the long run.  The Bronx Bombers can keep top prospect Jesus Montero and promising infielder David Adams (who would've gone to Seattle in a Lee deal) and still possibly get Lee for nothing but money in the offseason.  Also, New York's rotation will have more room for Lee in the winter since Javier Vazquez is probably unlikely to be re-signed and Andy Pettitte may retire.

There is one possible short-term downside for the Yankees, however, best summarized in a tweet by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News: "..this worked out quite well for the Yankees. Unless they have to play Texas in the playoffs, of course."


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