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.