As if being in first place with the third best record in the league didn't appeal enough to Rangers fans, new owners Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan have announced price rollbacks on everything from tickets to parking to concessions. That's all well and good, but I don't think anything would satisfy fans more than an extended run of success, and Greenberg told the AP (via The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) that they plan on pulling out all the stops to retain Cliff Lee after the season to help continue the good times.
"We're fully prepared to bear the cost of [re-signing Lee] — and do it with a smile because we're here to win," said Greenberg. "Right now, the terms are secondary ... What matters most now is demonstrating that this is a family."
"We feel like we have a pretty good handle on how to keep this team together with Cliff as a part of it," he added. "It's nothing that frightens us, and we'd be real happy to go into next season with that group and the cost that we project."
Lee remained diplomatic, saying that it's good for the organization to have some stability without ever indicating whether or not he'd like to return. With the possibility of a nine-figure payday just months away, it doesn't make sense for the lefty to do anything but remain completely neutral and keep all of his options open.
Because of all the young, cost controlled players on the roster, the Rangers' payroll this year is just shy of $65MM according to Cot's, one of the lowest in the game. Several players, most notably Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, and Nelson Cruz will be due sizable raises in arbitration next year, but Texas has plenty of young players to fill out their roster on the cheap.
Greenberg indicated that the team will raise payroll in the future, something that's unavoidable if they plan on keeping Lee. He did not give a specific number unsurprisingly, saying it "would be a foolish thing to do because it would be an artificial number." Retaining Lee would put the team on the hook for upwards of $35MM in annual obligation for just two players when you consider Michael Young's salary, so a future payroll of $80-90MM or so isn't out of the question.