SATURDAY, 3:41pm: Indians GM Mark Shapiro brushed aside reporters Saturday when asked why negotiations won't take place this season (quote courtesy of CBSSports.com):
"Over the course of spring training, we meet with a number of player agents," Shapiro said. "Consistent with that, we talked with Darek Braunecker, who represents Cliff. Other than that, there's really nothing for me to say. We never talk about negotiations."
THURSDAY, 8:57pm: According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians told reigning Cy Young winner Cliff Lee they will not negotiate an extension with him right now due to the economy. The Indians have a reasonable $9MM option on Lee for 2010, and he'll be eligible for free agency after that.
Lee's agent Darek Braunecker (of A.J. Burnett fame) confirmed the Indians' stance with Hoynes after meeting with the team. Braunecker does not plan to discuss an extension during the season, and Lee noted that the player gains leverage when he enters his free agent year. So the Indians would probably have to make a convincing offer to lock him up during the 2009-10 offseason after they exercise his option.
Lee is having a rough Spring Training – 25 hits and 16 earned runs allowed in 11.6 innings.