Nationals Eye Lee, Ready To Spend On Pitching

Several baseball officials tell Ben Goessling of 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.

64 Responses to Nationals Eye Lee, Ready To Spend On Pitching Leave a Reply

  1. RedSox2219 5 years ago

    Not a chance he signs there.

    • Hermie13 5 years 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…, 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 5 years 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 5 years 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 5 years 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 5 years 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 5 years ago

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

  2. $3977112 5 years ago


  3. $1529282 5 years 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 5 years 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 5 years 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 5 years 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 5 years 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 5 years 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 5 years 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.

  4. HerbertAnchovy 5 years 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.

  5. 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 5 years 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 5 years 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.

  6. natsin2012 5 years 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 5 years 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 5 years 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

  7. elbaumel 5 years 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 5 years 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.

  8. 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 5 years ago

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

      • Jason_F 5 years 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?

  9. Brandon Woodworth 5 years ago

    Cliff Lee? Pssh. Derrek Lee? Maybe.

  10. bas_in_denmark 5 years 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.

  11. BillB325 5 years ago

    If they even had a chance at doing this, haha even though they probably couldn`t, I say this looks like a contender.
    RF-who ever they want here

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

    • 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.

    • Why would you go with a 6-man rotation?

  12. myname_989 5 years 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.

  13. moonraker45 5 years 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 .

  14. Slopeboy 5 years 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.

  15. wickedkevin 5 years 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 5 years ago

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

  16. eponine 5 years 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.

  17. pt_nj 5 years 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 5 years ago

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

  18. NatExpo 5 years 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 5 years 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 5 years 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 5 years ago

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

  19. TapDancingTeddy 5 years 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?

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

      • TapDancingTeddy 5 years 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.

  20. eponine 5 years 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.

  21. the Nats will NEVER contend or truly sign the pricey FA’s until the ownership actually proves they are willing to increase payroll.The Lerners are the 2nd or 3rd wealthiest owner in ALL of baseball (3+ billion), yet they have consistently kept team payroll for the Nats around $60-65 million. They are consistently around 25th in MLB for payroll. Yet DC is a top 10 market, and we have a brand new stadium. The Lerners are cheap b*stards in my book.Every offseason- the Nats front office talks about having money to spend due to ‘expiring contracts’… yet all they do is go dumpster diving in the FA market, then rave about the great draft they had.I will believe it when I see it. The major league average for MLB payroll is $75-80 million. We are being outspent by the Royals every year. For an extra $10-15 million per year (putting our payroll at league average) we could easily have acquired better FA’s and filled our glaring holes with league average players. Instead of losing 90-100 games, we are closer to .500, which then makes BETTER FA’s more interested in coming here the following year. Plus, we field a more competitive team, and we don’t have 15k attendance per game, maybe its 20-25k per game.People want to see a winner.

    i understand that we would not have gotten Bryce Harper, but proven players are more valuable than prospects typically.

  22. Backup_Slider 5 years ago

    I’m continually amused at how so many just assume that Strasburg will return and be a dominant starter. Those individuals point at the handful of major leaguers who have come back from the ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction to pitch effectively and casually overlooks the dozens that never do return to prior form. And they set in with the “well, at least it is isn’t his shoulder” business, which from a comparison frame reference makes some sense, but then again “well, it is his elbow”. So count me among what seems to be the minority, the skeptics who will be surprised to see Strasburg return as a premiere pitcher.

    And as for Cliff Lee signing with the Nationals … no way. The only C. Lee the Nationals could get for 2011 is Carlos, and that’d be foolish given the $37M he’s due in 2011 and 2012.

  23. The_Porcupine 5 years ago

    This is just foolishness on the parts of the Nats. They are at least 2 years away from being serious contenders. They have 1 prospect in the rotation (Zimmerman), some good parts in the bullpen, a stellar 3b, 2 middle infield prospects (Desmond, Espinoza), a couple catching prospects with offensive question marks, and 1 outfielder (Willingham). Signing Lee does not fill all of those holes, nor does he help the prospects develop. Realistically to contend next year, they’d have to resign Dunn, sign Lee and the next best free agent pitcher, pray J. Zimmerman can be a good number three in the rotation, pray Strasburg can pitch well for more than 50 innings. Not to mention fill the rest of the holes described above. It isn’t going to happen. I appreciate optimism and I think the Nats have some really good parts to build a future with. But they’re not contenders. All they will do is help drive up a free agent leverage in talking to other teams.

  24. LUWahooNatFan 5 years ago

    I will not be a happy man if the Nationals don’t do the following:

    Get Lee/Greinke/Garza and Kuo/I can’t think of any other big time starters

    Resign Dunn or sign Pena/Lee

    Sign Podsednik(Is he available?)/Hawpe/Ordonez/Werth(highly unlikely if the Nationals resign Dunn or got Lee)

    Go atleast .500

  25. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    I’m not going to bother to edge the bet as to who signs Lee but I do think the Yanks are w/o too many holes and I see signing Lee and bringing back Pettite and maybe Woods as their top priorities. I think they are willing to got to CC’s annual of $23 per to get him. If this years FA crop is considered weak then 2012’s crop is a disaster as Mark Buerhle, Edwin Jackson and CJ Wilson top the list. History has shown that when the Yanks have a need and the folllowing years pool of FA looks week then they aren’t scared to go all in and get the best available that year. In winter 2008 they knew that the 2009 crop of starting pitching an 1B was weak so they spent big on CC, AJ and Tex. Whoever wants Lee should be prepared to go at least 5/115 because I think the Yanks would be willing.

    As for the Nats you have to question whether or not it is wise to spend $20 mil per for a pitcher when the rest of the team may not be ready to seriously dethrown the Phillies for another 2 or 3 years. Instead why not go after a guy like Grienke and maybe try to extend him?

  26. slider32 5 years ago

    Yanks will sign Lee and bring back Pettite. I also see them signing either Downs, Frazor,Benoit, or Guerrier.

  27. roberty 5 years ago

    I could see it happening. The Nationals have a fan base to build, and money spent now will come back ten fold over the next decade. With the strong core of position players the Nationals have now, and the great prospects they have waiting to be brought up, having Cliff Lee around for the next five years could make them a serious contender, and better yet, will help build the teams popularity and fan loyalty around Washington.

  28. squadwagon6 5 years ago

    The Nats are definitely going to spend this offseason, they saw how they old out the stadium and sold standing room only tickets when Strasburg debuted

  29. You never know, they were in on Teixeria until the very end.

  30. Ian_Smell 5 years ago

    I said the exact same thing the other day. Until they actually sign a big name guy, I will continue to ignore these types of posts.

  31. $1529282 5 years ago

    I was actually referring to the AL East vs. NL East as a Yankees-Nats comparison, though I clearly didn’t phrase it well. My mistake.

  32. wickedkevin 5 years ago

    Then stop commenting on them. Not really ignoring them, now are you?

  33. Ian_Smell 5 years ago

    Well not ignore, I just won’t take them seriously.

  34. Backup_Slider 5 years ago

    “they were in on Teixeira until the very end” is a euphemistic way of saying that the Nationals were one of Scott Boras’ leverage chips.

  35. jb226 5 years ago

    If you’re going to complain about somebody else’s reading comprehension, then I feel compelled to point out that “wak the walk” means actually doing what they say they’re going to do, not whether or not it gets the job done.Offering the most money for Teixeria? That’s walking the walk. It doesn’t matter that he signs somewhere else. If they really offer 5/$125MM to Lee, that’s walking the walk. It doesn’t matter where he signs.Insulting people for knowing what a term means better than you do makes you look like an arrogant fool.

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