Nationals Eye Lee, Ready To Spend On Pitching

Several baseball officials tell Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com that they believe the Nationals will target Cliff Lee this winter. Washington would like to add a top-of-the-rotation pitcher and Lee will be by far the most appealing free agent to become available after the season.

After a third consecutive dominant campaign, Lee was already in position to demand a nine-figure deal at the beginning of the month. Two shutdown playoff starts later, his stock has only risen and he may be looking to match C.C. Sabathia’s $161MM contract. 

That’s a lot of money, but baseball sources tell Goessling that the Nationals are ready to spend big. Apparently the club would be willing to commit $125MM over five years to an ace pitcher. Troy Renck of the Denver Post also hears that the Nationals are telling agents they’re willing to overspend on starting pitching if necessary.

Signing Lee would give the Nationals a fearsome duo atop the rotation once Stephen Strasburg returns from Tommy John surgery. However, the Yankees, Rangers and other clubs figure to have visions of Lee atop their respective rotations, too.


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64 Comments on "Nationals Eye Lee, Ready To Spend On Pitching"


RedSox2219
4 years 9 months ago

Not a chance he signs there.

Hermie13
4 years 9 months ago

Disagree strongly.

I think Lee goes to the highest bidder, no matter what team it is. If the Nats truely offer him 5yr/$125M, I think he’s theirs. That’s insane money and even the Yanks won’t give that out.

I said earlier this week to watch out for the Nationals as a dark horse for Lee. He makes a ton of sense for them…..plus, I think he’d like to face the Phillies serveral times a year as he still seems a lil bitter over the trade to the Mariners.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 9 months ago

Didn’t the Nats offer Tex the most money only to see him choose pinstripes? Thats whats going to happen with Cliff Lee. I would love to see the get him, but I don’t think they will. If they do not get him, expect some kind of duo like Huroki Kuroda and Matt Garza to end up in the Nations Capital.

melonis_rex
4 years 9 months ago

IIRC, the difference was small (within 5MM, and Teixeira would easily make up for the difference by going to NY where you can get much, much more advertisement/endorsement money if you’re a star)

And, bad blood between Boras and Jim Bowden, who is no longer the Nats GM.

Threat_Level_RedSox
4 years 9 months ago

If they resign Dunn and add another piece maybe Soriano, Derrek lee or carlos Pena they become a very appealing team given thier current roster and prospects, but unless that happens i dont see Lee takeing a extra 5-6 mil to spend the next 5-6 years on a mediocre team just so he can tell his grandkids he got to play with Strasburg and Harper. Some time commitment means alot to a player even if its not to him, winning now is better then winning 2-3 years from now.

Shikikazu
4 years 9 months ago

If you resign Dunn why the heck would you sign Derek Lee and Carlos Pena and are you planning to play Dunn in the outfield? Also you’re on crack if you want to take Alfonso Soriano’s contract eventhough he was good for the nats a while ago.

Threat_Level_RedSox
4 years 9 months ago

Rafael Soriano the free agent closer, Lee and Pena are better fielders and would be low risk high reward players.

$3977112
4 years 9 months ago

LOL

$1529282
4 years 9 months ago

We’ve heard this before too, with Teixeira and others. Willingness to spend just might not be enough. Sure, five years and $125MM will sound great to Lee (what 32-year-old pitcher wouldn’t like that?), but it’ll sound a lot better coming from the Yankees.

I suppose there’s the appeal of pitching in the National League and pitching in a weaker division, but I doubt that outweighs the fact that the Yankees are going to be in the postseason every October, while the Nationals may take a couple years to get there.

Hermie13
4 years 9 months ago

If the Yanks offer 5yrs/$125M, I agree he’d go there…..but that’s $2M more than CC’s is making…..$10M more total in that time span.

Lee is good….but that is way, way, way, way too much for him over 5 years. This guy is not the tank that CC is, he gets hurt a lot (minor stuff, but it adds up). His body is more likely to break down.

$1529282
4 years 9 months ago

Looking at Lee’s body and looking at CC’s, I don’t know if it’s fair to say Lee has a better chance of breaking down… sure Lee has the history, but he weighs about half as much as Sabathia and has been just as durable since his breakout return.

Hermie13
4 years 9 months ago

CC’s weight is a PLUS. He doesn’t put as much strain on his arm/shoulder/elbow to generate his pitches. Thin pitchers have more arm issues than bigger pitchers for this reason.

Lee went on the DL this year. He has not been as durable as CC since his breakout 2008 season.

Lee had arm issues in the minors too. CC had a pulled lat muscle once…..that’s it.

CC is also younger than Lee.

$1529282
4 years 9 months ago

I managed to forget about his injury to start this season, so you’re right, he hasn’t been as durable as Sabathia. Still, while he missed one month this season, it was because of an oblique rather than anything arm-related. I know he’s got the history, and I’m not saying he’s a good bet to hold up over the course of a five- or six-year contract, but I don’t think ever calling someone as obese as CC a “plus” is necessarily reasonable.

Sabathia’s body weight puts more pressure on his knees, ankles, legs, etc. in supporting it. He may not have the history of arm troubles, but he could be looking at some serious repercussions as a result of that body type. Heavier people are more prone to knee issues in general, and all of that weight crashing down on his plant foot every time he throws a pitch is going to take its toll.

Age and history are both negatives against Lee in a direct comparison with Sabathia, but my point was simply that given his body-type, I don’t think he’s a particularly safe bet to throw 200+ innings for the next 5-6 years in his own right.

bas_in_denmark
4 years 9 months ago

I think your point about the difference in durability is overstated. Over the last three years combined has pitched 20 fewer innings than CC had in the three years leading up to his free agent deal. This is not a very big difference. I think it is mostly attributable to the way the Brewers rode CC down the stretch in 2008. I think the only legitimate difference that should impact the kind of contract offers that Lee will see compared to CC is the age.You are way too certain that CC’s weight is actually an asset for my taste. We have never seen a starting pitcher in the major leagues with the build of CC before so there is no way of knowing that it is actually true that the size is an insurance against injury. With hitters we have seen that the bigger ones tend to wear out earlier. So I think that there is reason to be skeptical of this argument.

Encarnacion's Parrot
4 years 9 months ago

Between Lee and Sabathia, who has the highest chance of having a heart attack after throwing a pitch? Not even David Wells was that big.

HerbertAnchovy
4 years 9 months ago

Every time a name comes up now, it’s all about how The Nationals are interested. It’s getting ridiculous, it’s nearly every week! Every team is interested in free agents like Lee, whether or not they have any realistic chance of signing them is another story.

4 years 9 months ago

They better hope that Cliff Lee secretly hates pitching in the playoffs because that is the only way they have a shot at getting him.

Hermie13
4 years 9 months ago

Nationals aren’t that far off of the playoffs. With a guy like Lee….they could make a run like the Reds this past year.

2012 is more likely when Stras returns, but they have a nice nucleus of talent and a star in Ryan Zimmerman.

wnymetsfan
4 years 9 months ago

2012 is more likely which is why if it was me I would use that money to get a couple of solid starters instead of the one ace. Then when Stras is back your rotation will be much stronger as opposed to top heavy.

natsin2012
4 years 9 months ago

of course all the Yankees fans are trashing this. The Nationals are closer to contending than most of you all realize. With Lee, Strasburg, Zimmermann, Marquis and Lannan, this rotation could be very good, very soon. They already have a dominant bullpen and a very young and talented offense. If the Yanks offer as much as the Nationals, he’ll probably choose the Yankees, but there’s a chance that Nats offer more just like Texiera.

Ferrariman
4 years 9 months ago

since when do the nationals have a dominant bullpen? Clippard-Storen combo at the end is nice but it shouldn’t be confused with anything dominant, especially with the group surrounding them.

natsin2012
4 years 9 months ago

the nats had the 3rd lowest bullpen era in the NL, the two you mentioned weren’t even the best relievers last year, Sean Burnett was

4 years 9 months ago

Sorry but I would not list Marquis as a plus.

elbaumel
4 years 9 months ago

The Yankees are Worth 1.5 billion, & considering what he’s done to them… They may offer him the $161 they offered CC to get him

Hermie13
4 years 9 months ago

What the Yanks are worth is irrelevant. They still have their limits on what they’ll spend.

I don’t see them going insane on Lee like they did with CC. They HAD to overspend on CC to get him to come to NY and leave the NL. Lee will go to the highest bidder. IF a Japanese team bid highest, he’d go there.

Do think he ends up in NY. But for 5yrs/$115M at most. Maybe a 6th year option.

4 years 9 months ago

The only way Lee would sign with the Nationals is if the Rangers don’t make it to the World Series. The Nationals may be closer to contending than most people think but they still have at least another 2 or 3 years before they’ll be better than the Phillies which could be the majority of his contract.

Hermie13
4 years 9 months ago

Yes, but in baseball you don’t have to be better than the Phillies. Wild Card (hate it) is still there.

Jason_F
4 years 9 months ago

I’m curious why you hate the wild card. You would prefer either (a) two 8 team divisions or (b) four 4 team divisions?

Brandon Woodworth
4 years 9 months ago

Cliff Lee? Pssh. Derrek Lee? Maybe.

bas_in_denmark
4 years 9 months ago

Is it just me or does it seem like there will be a VERY strong market for Lee? The consensus seems to be 5 years and something in the 115-125 range. That’s not a very significant difference. So I think that if the Nats really want him they will have to go the extra year. Something like 6/141.

BillB325
4 years 9 months ago

If they even had a chance at doing this, haha even though they probably couldn`t, I say this looks like a contender.
C-Ramos
1B-Lee
2B-Hudson
SS-Desmond
3B-Zimmerman
LF-Willingham
CF-Morgan
RF-who ever they want here

Rotation of Lee, Strasburg(at the end of the season perhaps or 2012), Lannan, Hernandez, Zimmerman, and Marquis.

4 years 9 months ago

I would not count on Marquis or Hernandez. Hernandez pitched well this year but the previous couple where not good after the first couple of months.

4 years 9 months ago

Why would you go with a 6-man rotation?

myname_989
4 years 9 months ago

I think this is dependent upon what Cliff Lee does in this postseason. If the Rangers go on to win the World Series (which I don’t think they will. ^_^b ), then maybe Cliff is content enough with one ring to sign with the Nationals, who could be strong contenders over the next couple of years, especially if they are going to throw the most money at him.

If the Rangers don’t win the World Series, Cliff Lee to the Yankees is a foregone conclusion. This guy wants to win a World Series, and the Yankees give him the strongest option while paying him the most money.

moonraker45
4 years 9 months ago

Cliff lee said to a friend that he would pitch in alaska if the most money was there. and at this point you have to believe that the nationals would do something stupider then the yankees would.

The yankees want lee, and can spend, but do I personally don’t think they would eclipse the deal they gave to CC.. So if the nats were to get drunk and foolish, and offer say 8/180. . I really think he ends up where the money is .

Slopeboy
4 years 9 months ago

The Nat’s offer sounds more like a poker bluff than anything else. They know NY is the odds on favorite for Lee and are making sure that if they want him, they’re going have to dig deep into their wallet. Objectively thinking, why would Lee sign with them? He made the WS last year, may get there this year. Why would he sign with a team that is at best a long shot next year? He can get huge money from several realistic contenders easily.

wickedkevin
4 years 9 months ago

People sure hate on a team a lot that has only existed for how many years…? (And don’t give washington senators bs)

Threat_Level_RedSox
4 years 9 months ago

Their just the old expos with a nose job, dont let new uni’s fool you.

eponine
4 years 9 months ago

he doesn’t pitch on short rest. hence, he’s not pitching tonight and experts are picking the yankees to win the series and go to the world series. it’s probably the biggest concern i would have if i were a gm. also, the contract aj has insane to be a number 4 pitcher. if the yanks get lee and give him 100 mill plus that’s even more insane given lee’s injuries.

pt_nj
4 years 9 months ago

There’s a better chance Derek Jeter is the closer for the Red Sox next year than Cliff Lee signing with Washington.

Threat_Level_RedSox
4 years 9 months ago

But thiers a better chance Lee signs with Washington then mariano rivera playing shortstop for the red sox next year.

NatExpo
4 years 9 months ago

I can smell the stench of both extreme fear and excitement on this form!! All I know is that the Nats are in a position to turn the tables on their fortunes. Only a couple of key pieces and league fans will stop and watch as a string of rings are won by these very Nationals. Adding Lee will cripple not only everyone in the NL East, but all teams who face this very franchise! I absolutely love the idea of a rotation like this ( Lee, Strasburg, Wang, Zimmerman, ‘hell throw in Martha Stewart for all I care as the 5th’)… That alone should make everyone dread playing against this team. That 5th could be Marquis,Lannan, Hernandez, Detwiler. No other rotation in MLB will ever come close to that in the next 5-8 years… The expos/nationals have paid their dues for all the losing seasons and firesales and lack of support… hold onto your hats and I’ll enjoy seeing fans converting from being yankee, b-sox fans to crawl onto the Nationals Fan bandwagon… cheers

Backup_Slider
4 years 9 months ago

The problem for Nats fans is that the 5 man-rotation over the next 2 to 4 years is much more likely to include the 4 pitchers you listed as candidates for their #5 spot (Marquis, Lannan, Livan Hernandez, Detwiler) than the 4 pitchers you listed in their hypothetical 1 thru 4 spots : Cliff Lee (who would never sign with the Nats this offseason), Strasburg (a huge question mark at this point), Wang (hasn’t throw an MLB inning yet for the Nats, and could easily be back in Taiwan within 2 years), and Jordan Zimmerman (he’s the most likely of your 4 to be in the rotation long-term, though he has no track record of success as a big leaguer and is at some increased risk of a re-injury). When I look critically at this franchise, I really wonder how it is going to survive long-term. I’m sure at some level when Kasten left he had his eye on DuPuy’s job at MLB headquarters, but I’m guessing he also had to have some trepidation as to where the franchise is headed.

Shikikazu
4 years 9 months ago

Thats a lot of what-if’s Mr. Nat and Lee Strasburg Wang if it happens and do you think thats better than Halladay Oswalt and Hamels or Lincecum Cain and Sanchez/Bumgardner or Wainwright Carpenter Garcia or Lester Beckett Bucholz Lackey Matsuzaka
and so on

Slopeboy
4 years 9 months ago

Dare you to throw Oliver Perez as the 5th starter!!

TapDancingTeddy
4 years 9 months ago

The idea that the Yankees are going to give up anything to get Cliff Lee is true or not true depending on a lot of factors.First up is the Nationals. For if they are going to sign him, the urgency for the Yanks to get him drops as he goes to another league and to a non-contender. The same happened when Johan Santana was being bid out by the Twins. The Mets wanted to rebuild around Santana, and the Yankees were happy to get him out of the AL to let the Mets try.Whether Andy Pettitte is back for 2011 or retired is a factor, whether Greinke or another locked up pitcher becomes available for prospects and less money is a factor, whether paying Lee more per season than Sabathia will cause CC to opt out is a factor.So what am I saying? There’s a lot that will have to develop before we know exactly how much the Yanks will pay for Cliff Lee.It would only be a no-brainer if they could dump AJ Burnett’s contract on someone, but where is a someone that is so stupid to take it?

4 years 9 months ago

I would not count on dumping Burnett’s contract. That may be the one contract more unmovable than Oliver Perez’s contract.

TapDancingTeddy
4 years 9 months ago

It’s a terrible contract, and I don’t expect that the Yanks will be able to do anything but eat it.

My only hope is that he pitches a couple of times in the postseason, looks fantastic, and some stupid GM thinks he’s a potential 20 game winner.

That’s what the Yanks were thinking after AJ won 18 with the Blue Jays, but he’s proved to be unbelievably inconsistent. And by inconsistent, I mean bad more months than good.

eponine
4 years 9 months ago

i think if the red sox or tampa don’t make a serious run at him then i wonder if the yanks will still pursue him if lee is asking for an outrageous amount. by the way, i don’t think he’s bitter at philly. he keeps in touch with phils players.