Mike Rizzo Comments On Cliff Lee

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was asked about the Cliff Lee possibility on MLB Network/Sirius XM Radio today with Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy.  Rizzo's full comments:

Well, Jim, I'd be a fool if I didn't like Cliff Lee or want Cliff Lee on our club.  He's the prize pitching guy in this year's free agent market.  But again, I'm certainly not going to delude myself to the fact that we have a great chance of landing Cliff Lee.  He's going to have enough takers and enough competition for us to pick and choose whatever ballclub he wants to go to.  Suffice it to say that I love Cliff Lee, I'd love to have him on our club.  He is a No. 1 starter in the Major Leagues. 

We have contacted his agent and begun discussions with him, but I'm certainly not going to put all my eggs in the Cliff Lee basket because I think the chances of Cliff wanting to come to the Washington Nationals at this time in our franchise is small.

The Yankees and Rangers are considered the favorites for Lee; Yanks GM Brian Cashman is having a meet-and-greet with Lee in Arkansas today.  The Nationals are one other club with both the need and the money for the lefty, however.  Would Lee turn down the Nationals' offer if it's the highest?  That happened with Mark Teixeira two years ago, but the Nats may be closer to contending now.

32 Responses to Mike Rizzo Comments On Cliff Lee Leave a Reply

  1. GasLampGuru 5 years ago

    That’s quite a sales pitch. “Hey Cliff, we’re interested; but keep in mind we can’t afford to pay as much as the Yankees, our team sucks, we have limited fan support, and I have no idea why you’d actually come here.”

    • They can afford to pay as much or more than the Yankees, if Teixeira was any indication.

      • TheodoreRoosevelt 5 years ago

        I’ve seen quotes over the months basically implying that Lee is all about the money. I’m not sure if that is an exaggeration or not, but if it is the case then perhaps the Nats actually have quite a good shot if they have the resources to offer Lee the best contract?

      • What did they offer Teixeira?

        • not_brooks 5 years ago

          Reports were 8/$160M and that they were willing to jump to 10/$200.

          • 8/160. Thats what I remembered which is 20 million short of the Yankees. I never heard the 10/200 but I doubt that was ever an actual offer. It sounds more like after the fact boasting.

            The Nationals can safely offer any major FA that the Yankees are pursuing matching funds and rest assured that the player would never pick the Nationals over the Yankees if the dollars are the same.

            They do it for the headlines.

          • natsfan3 5 years ago

            The Nats offered 186 AND IT WAS THE HIGHEST OFFER.

          • not_brooks 5 years ago


          • natsfan3 5 years ago

            sorry for the caps. The link is being reviewed by the mod. Its to the wash post. They offered between 178-184, not 186. But still a hefty chunk

    • squadwagon6 5 years ago

      we have the richest owners in mlb we can match new york

  2. not_brooks 5 years ago

    How, exactly, are the Nats closer to contending now than they were two years ago?

    After the 2008 season, the Nats were coming off a 59-102 record and were set to draft Stephen Strasburg in 2009 and they signed Adam Dunn to boost their offense.

    After the 2010 season, the Nats are coming off a 69-93 record, Strasburg is out for the year and they’re probably going to lose Dunn. Philly and Atlanta aren’t going anywhere, the Marlins are only going to get better with experience and the Mets finally kicked Omar Minaya out of the driver’s seat.

    • Well, that’s why I wrote “may be.” Whether or not you and I think they are, it’d be about convincing one person.

      • not_brooks 5 years ago

        I guess that makes sense, but if it takes you and I three seconds to figure out that the Nats have essentially zero chances of contending over the next four or five years, I can’t imagine why Cliff Lee, who might only have four or five years left, wouldn’t be able to do the same.

        • Pseudonymus Bosch 5 years ago

          “zero chances of contending over the next four or five years”
          Actually, a 2012 team with healthy Cliff Lee, Strasburg, and Jordan Zimmermann, plus the best 3B in baseball, is not a bad base for contending in ’13 and ’14, especially with serious power hitter prospects coming up at catcher (Norris, ready in ’12) and right field (Harper, Sept callup ’12).

          • not_brooks 5 years ago

            I suppose you can speculate on that, but when four of the six guys you mention are nothing close to sure things, I doubt you could sell Lee on that right now…

            …especially just a few months after Strasburg’s Tommy John surgery. The guy won’t even throw for another, what, three months? Who knows how he’ll recover?

            …especially after Norris’ wrist injury that led to a big regression jumping from A ball to A+ in 2010. Let’s see how the guy recovers and how he does in AA before we peg him a big league cornerstone for 2012.

            …especially since Harper hasn’t even played a professional game.

          • Pseudonymus Bosch 5 years ago

            “Who knows how he’ll recover?” Nobody, but with a 93% recover rate, and precedents like Liriano, we can take a reasonable guess.
            “Norris’ wrist injury” As far as I know hamate surgery leads to a power drop for a year, which is followed by a return to the norm or an actual increase (Ryan Zimmerman had this). Norris is currently slugging .681 in the AFL (1.098 OPS)
            “Harper hasn’t even played a professional game.” .357/.419/.679 Arizona Fall League, albeit in a tiny sample of 7 games

          • not_brooks 5 years ago

            73 to 86% of statistics are made up. Where did you pull that 93% recovery rate? For every Josh Johnson, there’s a Darren Dreifort. For every Billy Wagner, there’s a B.J. Ryan. Oh, and there’s Scott Williamson, Kris Benson, Kerry Wood, Phil Humber, Jaret Wright, Mike Hampton, Bill Pulshiper, Eric Gagne. This list, like the like of success stories, goes on and on.

            I understand that hamate injuries lead to a power drop, which is why I said it was the injury that lead to the regression. But still, lets see how the guy does in AA before we plug him into a corner outfield spot. Same deal with Harper and his 28 AFL at bats.

            Look, I understand excitement about prospects. Especially prospects like Norris and Harper. And I understand that Nats fans aren’t yet ready to accept that Strasburg’s road to recovery could be long and painful, if he ever comes back at all. But my point was that you can’t sell a free agent on the hope that two prospects pan out and two pitchers recover from injuries. That’s all I’m saying here.

          • Pseudonymus Bosch 5 years ago

            “Where did you pull that 93% recovery rate?” I can’t post links because then the comment will get devoured by the moderation system. But the 92-95% number is the product of actual medical studies on case histories of baseball players. Google Tommy John surgery recovery rate and eOrthopod.com says 85-90%, Sports Illustrated says 92%, including a quote from Dr Frank Jobe who says the rate is now 92-95%. The SLC Deseret News also has 93%. Using my university’s PubMed subscription, I’ve found a paper by Lyle Cain, James Andrews, and 6 others, published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in October 2010, stating that two years after Tommy John surgery, 83% of patients “returned to the previous level of competition or higher in less than one year.”

            From SI, 11% of all pitchers in the majors are Tommy John recoverees.

    • $4555515 5 years ago

      c’mon give us a little bit of credit even though we finished in last place our W-L record was best among last place teams throughout the league

      dont get my wrong i realize thats like saying “im the thinnest kid at fat camp” but our division was 1 of the more competitive divisions goin into this season and we had alot of injuries to jordan zimmerman who is healthy now and a few other players if the nats get lee thats a good number 1 then zimmerman strasburg at 2-3 depending how jordan progresses and when strasburg comes back

      resigning dunn or pena as a FA will be key cause we dont have much depth at 1st base

      i would be fine with trading for a starter if lee doesnt want to come to dc

  3. arkeen 5 years ago

    Wow, a little too much honesty from Rizzo.

    • Yucavich 5 years ago

      Trying for the sympathy “we suck but we can give you a truckload of dough” signing???

      • coolstorybro222 5 years ago

        then they trade him to the rangers again then the rangers lose the world series again

  4. Just added the full text of what Rizzo said to the post, if you’d like context.

  5. Jesse Tu 5 years ago

    There is no way Cliff wants to go to that triple A team regardless.

  6. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Nats were not serious about Teixeira and prboably aren’t serious about Lee.

    It’s a GREAT PR move to bid a sizeable portion of money and come in second. I’m sure they really did float a high offer to Teixeira, but they knew they wouldn’t get him and they didn’t really want him.

    I think they’d want Lee more than Teixeira, but if they’re going to make a splash in free agency with all this money they apparently have, it’ll be next year or the year after. Until then it’s just lip service, albeit smart.

    • Guest 5 years ago

      How exactly were the Nats not serious about Teixeira? They offered him a buttload of cash, the most they had ever offered to anybody since moving to DC. What facts to you have to support that assertion? I think they were dead serious about signing him because they needed somebody to put butts in seats. The Lerners are business people and sitting around while the farm system builds itself up isn’t going to put butts in seats when the MLB team sucks. They want a return on their investment and are just realizing now that they’re going to have to pony up the cash to get some back.

      Frankly, this team isn’t going to be in any position to compete for the next 3 years, minimum, in my opinion. Minaya decimated the farm system and they’re just getting that back into decent shape. With Rizzo’s “Build from the Ground Up” approach, it’ll be some time before it’s actually in decent shape. We’ve got good guys down there, they’re just not MLB-ready yet.

      • A smart franchise, which is what the Nats are purported to be now, would never commit a third of it’s payroll to one player, especially a player that would be in his late 30s as the team hits its stride.

        The Nats will be peeking in 2016 or so, right as Teixeira hits 36, and he’d be making 20m per.

        Look, I don’t know, and I never pretended to know for sure the Nationals intentions. Obviously those things are kept private within the organization. But for an objective observer, it looks like their offer was made as a PR move and not a personnel move. The offer was real, hell, even the interest was real, but they never thought they would get him and they’re following the same formula this offseason.

        And if you serve as any kind of sample, their plan is working brilliantly.

        • Guest 5 years ago

          I actually thing that you and I agree on all points except the seriousness of the Nats signing these big-name free agents and I actually think that it’s just a difference in reasoning. I actually think that the Nats are dead serious about signing these guys (why else would they make the offer?) but do agree with your point that they don’t EXPECT to sign these guys. I disagree that PR is the primary motivation because there’s still the off-chance that these guys accept the offer, as remote as it may be. I think that these types of signings can do two things for a program. One, it assuages the owner into getting a MVP-type guy who can put butts in seats and get him a return on his investment. I think this was the primary motivation behind the offer to Texeiria. The Lerners decided to open their checkbooks and went after a guy who is a Maryland-native and assumed that a player of his caliber would bring people out to the ballpark day after day. The 200m would be made up within a couple years of the contract, if they played their cards right, and there’s the possibility that they could have unloaded him at the deadline for more prospects to help the farm system. Two, it makes DC an attractive destination for future free agents. I think that this was the motivation behind the trades/signings of Soriano, Dunn, etc., because they were guys that weren’t fantastic players but seemed to have the “Seasons of their lives” in DC. That said, when you have a bullpen as pathetic as ours and a wholly inconsistent SP rotation, you aren’t going to win too many games, and winning is a primary motivation of many of these free agents in my opinion. In conclusion, I actually think you and I agree that signing the top-tier free agents is remote unless you offer them the moon in salary, but disagree on the seriousness of the offer. I don’t think PR is the motivation at all, but rather I think they do it because they actually want the guy. Whether they expect him to pick DC is a different story–in that case I do agree with you that they think it is just a remote possibility.

  7. i agree. looks great in a PR sense to come in second. hey nats fans, we’re really trying to make our team better, but the yankees keep “outbidding” us.

    • Exactly. Not that Mark Teixeira isn’t a good player. He would obviously make the Nats better. But he isn’t worth $22M to the Nats because they aren’t in contention.

      If they ever make a huge move like that in free agency, it’ll be to put them over the top once the core players are hitting their prime, not 3 years before they’re sniffing .500

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