When it comes to pitching, Cliff Lee will be the prize of the upcoming offseason. Though free agent starters such as Javier Vazquez, Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda would be welcome additions to many MLB rotations, they haven't pitched as well as Lee in recent years.
After winning the 2008 Cy Young Award, Lee posted a 3.22 ERA in over 230 innings last year, striking out more than four times as many batters as he walked. So far in 2010, the lefty has a 3.28 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 0.7 BB/9 as he closes in on his fifth 200 inning season. Lee, 32, has set himself up for a big free agent payday. Here's a list of teams with possible interest:
- Yankees - It's long been assumed that the Yankees will offer Lee a massive contract. The Bronx Bombers have outbid others before and their financial might will likely come in to play again. After all, some believe Lee will go to Siberia if that's where the money is.
- Tigers - The Tigers have an open rotation spot and money coming off the books. It's a natural fit.
- Rangers - The Rangers know Lee will be pricey, but they're prepared to bid on him.
- Nationals - GM Mike Rizzo identified starting pitching as a major need even before Stephen Strasburg underwent Tommy John surgery. The Nationals have been willing to spend on free agents in recent years.
- Dodgers - Ted Lilly, Vicente Padilla and Hiroki Kuroda hit free agency and the Dodgers have to replace that production somehow.
- The Twins, Mets, Reds, Brewers and Padres may have interest, depending on how the next few months unfold. Lee could have an extra suitor or two if the Twins lose Carl Pavano, the Mets decide they can spend more than expected, the Reds let Bronson Arroyo walk or the Padres surprise people. At this point, it seems more likely that the Yankees, Tigers and Rangers will be Lee's most serious suitors.