Cliff Lee May Seek Sabathia Money

He just finished a third consecutive dominant season and is on his way to a second consecutive standout postseason. Cliff Lee is going to be a well-paid pitcher next season and for many years to come. In fact, Jon Heyman of SI.com hears word around the game that the lefty will look to match the $161MM deal C.C. Sabathia signed two offseasons ago.

Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, didn’t discuss his client’s demands in detail, but he did acknowledge that continued postseason dominance could play in his client’s favor.

"There's certainly been a history of guys enhancing their value based on how they performed in the postseason,'' Braunecker said. "Every team is trying to add players who are battle-tested and have the ability to perform on the big stage.''

Could a big October help Lee match his former teammate, Sabathia? "Why not?'' one executive told Heyman. "He's as good as Sabathia.'' He’s also four years older than Sabathia was when he signed his deal, though his agent will surely point to Lee’s improved performance and physical condition.

As Heyman points out, the Yankees are the early favorites to sign Lee and the Rangers, Tigers, Nationals, Mets and Brewers are other possibilities. If a team other than the Rangers signs Lee, he will cost a top draft pick, since the Rangers are sure to offer arbitration. After posting a 3.18 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 0.8 BB/9, Lee is a Type A free agent.

Click here to vote on which free agent can improve his stock the most this October.


66 Responses to Cliff Lee May Seek Sabathia Money Leave a Reply

  1. Heh. “May.”

  2. roberty 5 years ago

    Obviously.

  3. Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

    He’s also seeking a C.C. Sabathia teammate.

    • Hal isn’t his father(RIP). He’s not as willing to spend on FA as much. I wouldn’t mind Lee though, just not anything higher than a 4 year deal worth 20-21 $MM, mutual option for a fifth year, signing bonus, and a NTC(ugh..).

      • melonis_rex 5 years ago

        Wasn’t Hal pretty much running the team (although George was still living) when the Yanks went on that 400MM spending spree in 2008.

      • TapDancingTeddy 5 years ago

        There’s the Tex, A.J. and CC signings to look at, and then, Hal and Hank signed A-Rod to his current ridiculous deal. A-Rod could’ve never gotten more than 8 @ 25M per from any other team, but he got 10 @ 30M (when you include very makeable incentives) from Hal and Hank.

        I don’t see the new management being any more conservative than the modified, post ban, George M. Steinbrenner era.

      • that’s cool, but it also means there’s no way you would manage to sign Lee.

  4. Guest 5 years ago

    damn, I thought he was seeking Dustin Moseley money, boy was I wrong…

  5. Why I’m not surprised?

  6. melonis_rex 5 years ago

    Give it to him, Rangers.

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      Yes, cause the last time the Rangers gave out a record deal it turned out sooooo well (see Alex Rodriguez).

      • laxtonto 5 years ago

        Actually it is hard to argue that ARod wasn’t worth every dime he was paid in Texas… He averaged 50 Hrs, 130+ Rbis and OPSed over 1.000 to go along with his 2003 MVP. Now Chan-Ho was a different story…

      • laxtonto 5 years ago

        Actually it is hard to argue that ARod wasn’t worth every dime he was paid in Texas… He averaged 50 Hrs, 130+ Rbis and OPSed over 1.000 to go along with his 2003 MVP. Now Chan-Ho was a different story…

  7. Hermie13 5 years ago

    I’m sure he’s seeking it. If anyone gives it to him they are out of their minds.

    He’s 4 years older than where CC was when he signed his deal (CC was 28 when he signed his deal, Lee is 32).

    CC has been healthier over the course of his career. Lee missed time this year as well.

    To get $161M you have to give Lee a 7 year deal…..you really think someone will pay Lee $23M when he’s 39 years old? CC will 35 when his deal ends.

    Lee may get a 5 year deal worth around $110M, but anything more than that is ridiculous, even for a team like the Yankees.

    • If Cliff Lee continues to be this dominant in the postseason, the Yankees will basically hand him a blank check. If he wants Sabathia money, he’ll get it.

    • TapDancingTeddy 5 years ago

      I agree with you Hermie. Seven years to match CC is out of line. Lee is best going for a 3 year contract if he thinks he’ll be healthy. Then in per year, it would be fine for a team that could afford him to hand him the same per year as CC.

      However, with each added contract year, the per year pay has to decline. No one is doing a smart job handing out long term contracts to pitchers who are over 30.

  8. moonraker45 5 years ago

    are a 38 year old sabathia and 40 year old cliff lee making 20 million dollars a season a smart move?

  9. bas_in_denmark 5 years ago

    If we’re talking CC-money on an annual basis? Sure. I doubt he’ll get the years. He should get only five years (age 33 through 37) but maybe some team will go to six. I’ll say 5/120 or 6/141. That way he’ll do better than CC on an annual basis and his agent can say that he made his client the best payed pitcher in the game.

    Does anyone else feel like this could end up like the Kevin Brown situation (huge contract, three good years)?

    • dieharddodgerfan 5 years ago

      Yeah, 5 yrs for $120 mill sounds about what I think Lee will get from the Yanks.

      I think he will probably be worth it for 4 out of the 5 years. Sabathia and Lee in the same rotation for 5 years. Wow.

      • Hermie13 5 years ago

        That would make Lee the highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball on an annual basis….CC gets $23M per year……you’re saying give Lee $24M per year…..

        No way is Lee worth more than CC. I don’t care how good he’s been the last 2 years, FOUR YEARS OLDER at the time of the deal and TWO full years older now. He’s worth less than CC who gives you more innings.

        And the Yanks don’t have to go crazy on their bid for Lee like htey did for CC. CC wanted to a) stay in the NL so he could hit, and b) play on the west coast. It wasn’t til the Yanks absolutely blew anyone else’s offer out out of the water that he agreed to go there, and even then he had a 3year opt out clause put in (doubt he uses it now though as he does seem to like NY).

        Lee just wants to be paid, doesn’t care where he goes. So all the Yanks have to do is bid $1 higher than anyone else. No one else can afford $23M for 5 years on 1 pitcher in this economy, let alone $24M.

        • bas_in_denmark 5 years ago

          I think the excuses about the NL and the West Coast was just a way for CC to drive up the price. Surely you will see Lee’s agents pull off similar shenanigans this winter to drive up the price.For the last three years Cliff Lee has been pretty much exactly as good as CC was the last three years before he hit free agency. ERA: Lee: 2.98 CC: 3.03; FIP: Lee: 2.85 CC: 3.10 INN: Lee: 667.1 CC: 686.2; WHIP: Lee: 1.122 CC: 1.140; K/9: Lee: 7.2 CC: 8.3; BB/9: Lee: 1.3 CC: 1.8. They are slightly different pitchers CC strikes out a bit more and Lee walks a bit fewer but there is no way they are not of comparable quality.When it comes to the age. That is why I am arguing for a 5-year deal for Lee against a 7-year deal for CC.

      • Hermie13 5 years ago

        CC and Lee in the same rotation for 5 years? man, that sounds familar….o wait, they already were in the same rotation for 5 years (actually parts of 7 seasons)! (bashes head against wall)

  10. Boy, did Lee make a bad time to become a bonafide ace at the wrong side of thirty.

    I don’t really want Hal to be signing many FA that old, no matter how good they are. If he wants security, how’s about he get the same deal as Halladay? That’s still 20$MM… and incentives, signing bonus, and a mutual option can be added in there as well as a NTC. Maybe even a 4 Yr deal with an option worth 20$MM

    • Completely different situation than Halladay…he’s two years younger and he’ll be a free agent. Halladay signed his deal a year before free agency while Cliff Lee will be on the open market. Plus Halladay just wanted to be with a contender, while Cliff will go to the highest bidder. The Yankees will need to offer at least 5yrs at around 110m. I mean John Lackey just got a 5yr 82 million dollar deal, and look at the deals signed by Beckett and Burnett recently. I think he will end up getting 6yrs at CC money from the Yankees. They have a few good arms in their farm system, but none have a real shot at being an elite top of the rotation starter. If they don’t sign Cliff I think they’ll be in trouble going foward with the types of arms that are in the AL East…well be in trouble for Yankee standards (basically for a season or two and then rebuild through free agency).

      • I don’t think the Yankees are gonna be in any trouble any time soon… Plenty of pitching depth with a ton of B+ upside pitchers along with 2 potential eA’s(not literaly.). But I think if the Yanks don’t win it all, Lee will become a priority, but just not like a maximum 6 year deal.

        • BigBangBoom 5 years ago

          5 year deal for lee…if he stays healthy his career will be like pettites at 37 except maybe a little better since lee in his 30’s > andy in his 30’s so far. This will allow the yankees to have spot open for one of their young pitchers when andy retires. Then as AJ contract is over in 3 years or maybe even be gone they have room for another young pitcher. CC and Lee anchors the rotation for the next 3 years as young pitcher are brought up. Brackman right now is the only one of the 3 pitching prospects in the yankees system that might be mlb ready. the others will still need a year or two of development and there could be a chance they traded if the yankees are in need at a certain position.

          • Brackman has control issues AND I don’t think NY just has 3 pitching prospects… none of the others maybe like legit and superstar like King Felix or Halladay or Lester but their pretty solid B-B+. I’d like to see Joba get a shot.

      • I don’t think the Yankees are gonna be in any trouble any time soon… Plenty of pitching depth with a ton of B+ upside pitchers along with 2 potential eA’s(not literaly.). But I think if the Yanks don’t win it all, Lee will become a priority, but just not like a maximum 6 year deal.

      • And Halladay is not a greedy megalomaniac that needs a huge payday.

  11. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    I agree with most. I have no problem with the annual being around $20 to $23 mil but I would limit it to no more than 4 or 5 years. If Pettite retires then that will make the idea more palatable. I would then go with CC, Lee and AJ and offset their expensive contracts by going with Hughes and one of the kids, probably Nova next year with an eye on Brackman, Betanecs, etc for 2012 or 2013 depending on how they progress.

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      Man, Yanks still think Brackman can hold up for 180 innings as a starter? Seems like a future closer.

      • tomzig 5 years ago

        Why wouldn’t they think he can hold up for 180 innings? He doesn’t have reoccurring injuries and has recovered from TJ Surgery very well. He pitched 140 this year no problem. He’ll probably pitch 180 next year.

  12. rockfordone 5 years ago

    Lee has a bad market. Big spenders staffs are full. Should sign with Texas for 45M/3yrs.
    White Sox could sign him but must move Burhele or Peavy.

    • New York Yankees. cast rested.

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      Yeah what are you talking about? Angels could use him and have cash to spend. Yanks need a starter and have cash to spend. Tigers need a starter and have at least $35M to spend.

      Lee will sign for way, way, way, way more than 3yr/$45M. That is guaranteed. Heck, he may get more than $45M in a 2 year period (though that’s stretching it some IMO).

      I also would put the Nationals in as a dark horse candidate. They have money coming off the books if they let Dunn walk (and they should). They need a front-line starter….and imagine Lee and Strasburg paired up in 2 years when Stras is healthy? They’re a team that could go crazy to get their man and get some interest in the 2011 team (no Stras will make it hard to draw fans).

  13. oremlk 5 years ago

    Lee is the kind of pitcher who profiles to be good for a long time; tall lefties who don’t rely on velocity, but on command and pitchability, tend to remain good longer.

    However, the market is much different from the market Sabathia got his deal in.

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      He may be good for a long time….but not great (and to get CC money you have to be GREAT for a long time). He also has battled some injuries 3 of the last 5 years. He may not age well in that department…..

  14. baseballz 5 years ago

    The question im wondering about is what will the Yankees do if the Red Sox enter the bidding for Lee ? Im thinking he gets paid what he wants.

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      I don’t think the Yanks are worried about the BoSox. they dont’ have the cash to spend for one thing. They need to focus on hitting for another…..and their rotation is overflowing as it is.

      • Yeah..that’s false. The Red Sox definitely have cash to spend, I just doubt it would be on Cliff Lee. But if he’s really only getting 5yrs 100 million like some people think, the Red Sox would be all over that. They just gave John Lackey 5yrs 82 million.

        • tomzig 5 years ago

          But I thought the Red Sox were a small market team, how do they have cash to spend

          • What are you talking about, who said they are small market? Also saying the Red Sox “don’t have a very good rotation” is laughable. The Red Sox can deal Matsuzaka’s contract, 2yrs 20m is not that serious at all. While they have overpaid Lackey and Beckett, let’s not forget that Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, and Lackey combined to make less than AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia. So if Lester and CC break even, give me Buchholz, Beckett, and Lackey over AJ Burnett please.

          • tomzig 5 years ago

            They always like to pretend they are a small market team and can’t compete financially with the Yankees. It’s a joke that

            As for the rotations…would you rather have 2 pitchers that are equivalent to AJ Burnett in performance and salary or have only 1 AJ Burnett? I think I’ll take the latter.

            Let’s not forget about Buchholz unsustainably low BABIP and LOB%, high amount of walks and low K rate.

            The Sox cannot trade Dice-K, not unless they eat like 12-16 million left on that deal.

          • The Red Sox can’t financially match the Yankees though, but they can match anyone else. Why is this hard to understand? I don’t think they pretend to be small market at all. I agree that Buchholz’s ERA was deceiving, but he’s still a very good pitcher. The argument isn’t over whether you’d rather have two overpaid guys or one…the argument is that the Red Sox have four guys who make as much as Sabathia and Burnett. So while they might have two overpaid guys (Lackey and Beckett), they have two elite pitchers who are signed very cheap, which makes up for it. The Yankees don’t have that outside of Hughes, and I don’t think he’s on Lester or Buchholz level right now. Also, the Red Sox wouldn’t have to eat 12-16m to deal Dice-K, be serious. That would mean Dice-K would be a 4-8m dollar a year pitcher. They could deal him and not eat a dollar, but get little in terms of value in return. I get that your a Yankee fan, but stop being ridiculous. Any baseball fan would tell you the Red Sox have a good rotation, even if Beckett, Lackey, and Matsuzaka are a bit of wildcards at the moment.

          • tomzig 5 years ago

            John Henry whines more than Mark Attanasio when it comes to the Yankees. The fact is, they can compete with the Yankees financially. Lester is an elite pitcher, I wouldn’t put Buchholz in that category yet. Buchholz is good pitcher, but he had one good year and is 2 years older than Hughes.This has nothing to do with me being a Yankee fan. The Sox rotation just. isn’t. that. good. Period. You even admitted that 3/5s of the rotation cannot be relied on and Buchholz had a deceiving year. How is THAT a good rotation?

          • If you watched enough AL east games this year, then I think you would realize Bucholz is for real. As a Jays fan, I know many of us bemoan the fact we could not pry him away in a deal for Halladay (except then Doc would play for the cursed Sox). Possibly with the exception of Price, I thought Bucholz was the most impressive young starter the Jays faced this year. His stuff is dirty, he has great looking make-up on the mound, and he has good control. Hughes, though also good, seems to have a lower ceiling and remains much less polished.

          • No, they can’t compete with the Yankees financially. Why are you trying to argue this point? The Yankees resources far surpass the Red Sox, this isn’t up for debate. The Red Sox shouldn’t complain too much because they can compete with any other team, but they can’t match the Yankees. You are complaining that the Red Sox complain about money…do you see why this is ironic? Your a Yankee fan, enjoy the fact that your team has so much money to spend.

            Anyways, Buchholz has been the Red Sox second best pitcher since the All Star break of 2009. He struggled in 2008, but has been very good since. Obviously his ERA was better than he pitched, a 2.33 in the AL East is insane, but he has consistenly improved. The guy is absolutely elite, as in one of the top 30-60 pitchers in baseball (a top of the rotation starter). Going foward, give me Buchholz against Hughes and Lester against Sabathia and I’m happy. I’ll also take Beckett or Lackey over Burnett. While 3/5 of the rotation is inconsistent, so is the Yankees. Outside of Sabathia and Pettitte I don’t really trust anyone, and Pettitte is in either his last or second to last season.

          • tomzig 5 years ago

            What do you mean they can’t compete with the Yankees? They were able to drastically increase their payroll this past year. They put up 50 million to just talk to dice-k. They offered only a little less than the Yankees did for Mark Teixeira (about 2 million per yr). They absolutely CAN compete. But when they fail, they just whine. I enjoy the fact that the Yankees spend money, but I don’t want to hear people bitch and moan (i.e. John Henry) about it.Buchholz has been the 2nd best starter for the Sox, well yeah, Lackey, Dice-K, Beckett, and Wakefield have been really bad. I do not consider Buchholz elite yet because if you look beyond his ERA and look at his peripheral stats, he is not close to elite. He doesn’t strike a lot of guys out, he walks a lot of batters, his LOB% and BABIP are unsustainably low. His FIP and xFIP are 3.61 and 4.20 respectively. I would take Phil Hughes over Buchholz because Hughes is not only 2 years younger, but strikes more guys out, walks less guys, and pitched in line with his FIP and xFIP, meaning he didn’t benefit from any extraordinary amount of luck, like Buchholz did and like Dice-K did in 2008. Now you say you’ll take the Sox rotation over the Yanks. Lackey is already showing signs of decline and is a year older, Beckett hasn’t been the same Beckett in years, Dice-K just sucks, and Buchholz got lucky. Care to re-evaluate?

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            I like how you use metrics to back up you saying Buchholz will face regression (which he will) but then refuse to in Beckett’s case. That says you were going to “prove” your point any way possible. Even if you had to leave some stuff out. Obvious bias.

          • The Red Sox can’t financially match the Yankees though, but they can match anyone else. Why is this hard to understand? I don’t think they pretend to be small market at all. I agree that Buchholz’s ERA was deceiving, but he’s still a very good pitcher. The argument isn’t over whether you’d rather have two overpaid guys or one…the argument is that the Red Sox have four guys who make as much as Sabathia and Burnett. So while they might have two overpaid guys (Lackey and Beckett), they have two elite pitchers who are signed very cheap, which makes up for it. The Yankees don’t have that outside of Hughes, and I don’t think he’s on Lester or Buchholz level right now. Also, the Red Sox wouldn’t have to eat 12-16m to deal Dice-K, be serious. That would mean Dice-K would be a 4-8m dollar a year pitcher. They could deal him and not eat a dollar, but get little in terms of value in return. I get that your a Yankee fan, but stop being ridiculous. Any baseball fan would tell you the Red Sox have a good rotation, even if Beckett, Lackey, and Matsuzaka are a bit of wildcards at the moment.

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            Beckett also has unsustainably high BABIP and LOB%. His peripherals are the same as ’09 when he had a sub 4 ERA. And as long as Lester, Buchh, and Beckett can post sub 4 ERAs with Lester presumably in the low 3s the Sox will be fine.

      • Yeah..that’s false. The Red Sox definitely have cash to spend, I just doubt it would be on Cliff Lee. But if he’s really only getting 5yrs 100 million like some people think, the Red Sox would be all over that. They just gave John Lackey 5yrs 82 million.

      • tomzig 5 years ago

        The Sox have 0 space for him

        Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey, Dice-K.

        Not a very good rotation, but they are locked in with expensive long term contracts with Beckett, Lackey, Dice-K.

      • tomzig 5 years ago

        The Sox have 0 space for him

        Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey, Dice-K.

        Not a very good rotation, but they are locked in with expensive long term contracts with Beckett, Lackey, Dice-K.

  15. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    The Sox have money to spend but they also have TONS of holes to fill and far more concerns. A healthy Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Buccholz and Dice-K is pretty good, at least on paper. However, they will try and fill holes at 3B, C, DH and upgrade the bullpen and OF before they worry about spending $100 mil on a pitcher they don’t really need. Also, while the Sox have tons of money they have also shown an unwillingness to go over that luxury tax that hits them somewhere around that $165 to $175 area.

  16. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    The Sox have money to spend but they also have TONS of holes to fill and far more concerns. A healthy Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Buccholz and Dice-K is pretty good, at least on paper. However, they will try and fill holes at 3B, C, DH and upgrade the bullpen and OF before they worry about spending $100 mil on a pitcher they don’t really need. Also, while the Sox have tons of money they have also shown an unwillingness to go over that luxury tax that hits them somewhere around that $165 to $175 area.

  17. nictonjr 5 years ago

    It doesn’t matter who is in on Lee. The Yankees have no choice but to sign him. If Andy retires add a year and a couple extra mil per to what he’s asking. If Hughes struggles in his starts add…

  18. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    I don’t think the Yanks have any problem offering him $23 mil. I don’t think there’s any gun to their head either to offer any more than that. 4/92 or 5/110 is the max I can see.

  19. YankeeBaseball 5 years ago

    Make no mistake, the Yankees will get their man! 5yr 115million matching ZZ at 23m/yr.

  20. For all the people whining and complaining that Amaro didn’t keep Lee and sign him, this is the reason why. 161 million dollars and 7 years for a 32 y/o pitcher? Amaro did the right thing and was still able to afford Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt for several years to come instead of having all that money tied up in a guy that will be 39 when his contract comes to an end!!!!!!

    • alphabet_soup5 5 years ago

      How many more games would the Phillies have won this year if they had kept Cliff Lee but still traded for Halladay? And a playoff rotation of Halladay-Lee-Oswalt-Hamels would make the Phillies definite favorites in every series they played. I still believe the Phillies made a mistake in trading Cliff Lee last offseason, as I’m sure many others do.

      “Alright we can have Cliff Lee next season at a $8 million club option, but that might cost a lot of money. Let’s just extend the unreplaceable Ryan Howard to a $125 million deal over 5 years.”

  21. You seem to be forgetting Soup5 that had the Phillies kept Lee for his final year and signed him long term, the Phils wouldn’t have gone after Halladay in the first place. Amaro only pulled the trigger on the Halladay deal when it was clear Lee was looking for HUGE money. Halladay was willing to forgo his chance at F/A to sign in Philly for 4 years for cheaper than what Lee wants. And, yes, they were both on the staff for a fleeting moment but again, had Amaro kept Lee, he would most certainly have left after this year because it’s abundantly clear now that he isn’t content on just being on a contender. He is looking for the big payday, otherwise, he’d resign with Texas right now, they’re “contending” right now! Trust me, as a Phillies fan, I’m content with the knowledge that we will have H2O for the forseeable future rather than someone who may or MAY NOT have been there next year! Remember, Oswalt’s contract for this year and next is mostly being payed by the Astros, Halladay is locked up at less than he would have gotten in F/A and Hamels is still locked up for a couple of more years at reasonable money.

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