Reality sets in for the Rangers


You have to hand it to new Rangers owners Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan. They’ve shown confidence, even cockiness, since taking over the Rangers. Even before they beat the Yankees in the ALCS they claimed that they had what it took to retain Cliff Lee. Ryan in particular has been outspoken in this stance. Yet it appears that in the last couple of days that has changed.

It started yesterday, when Ryan told SI’s Jon Heyman that he thinks Lee is “about ready to entertain offers.” The most aggressive offers will likely come from the Yankees, Rangers, and Nationals, but we could see a dozen or more teams submit proposals. Now that we’re a step further in the process, are the Rangers as confident as before?

Apparently not. Nolan Ryan talked to Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. Costa’s tweet says it all:

Nolan Ryan said he expects Yankees to outbid Rangers for Cliff Lee. Said they’ll try to sell appeal of Texas, but didn’t sound confident.

The appeal of Texas is that Lee wouldn’t have to pay state income tax on about half of his salary, and that he’d be a bit closer to his home in Little Rock. The appeal of New York is that he’ll earn more money and he’ll be in an environment where the front office will consistently surround him with elite talent. And, in my biased view, it being New York City makes it appealing enough.

This situation likely won’t play out until the Winter Meetings, but it does appear that the Yanks have the situation well at hand. It will mean big changes in the future, but I’m sure the Yankees are well aware of the obstacles they’ll face with multiple $20 million contracts on the books.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Tom Zig says:

    All your Cliff Lee are belong to us.

  2. Big Stein says:

    And, in my biased view, it being New York City makes it appealing enough.

    Too bad he’s not single. It’ll be hard to really enjoy NYC when you got a ball and chain attached to your ankles.

    Maybe he can pull a Mantle/Clinton and leave the wife and kids back in Arkansas during the season.

    • Dalelama says:

      Unfortunately Clinton didn’t leave his in Arkansas…LOL

    • Brian in NH says:

      Not everybody loves the city life. Seems like Lee is a guy who really enjoys nature and the outdoors. there is not much of that in New York City. Granted, he’s on the road for a good portion of the year, but living in/near NYC doesn’t have the same appeal for everyone. I’d personally rather live near Boston, San Francisco, or Seattle.

  3. Andrew says:

    Wait so that TV deal and the drunk and disorderly NY fans and the magical 2010 claw-and-antlers run might not keep Cliff Lee in Texas? Color me shocked and appalled! I feel like I’ve been duped all this time.

    • Not Tank the Frank says:

      I know. And ESPN kept telling me Lee would be a better fit in Texas because their team is younger and will be better for a long time with a deeper farm system.


      No mention of how the Yankees have been the or one of the best teams in baseball for sixteen years. Nevermind the Yankees farm system. They’re going to have cost controlled stars and roll players and they simply won’t be outspent for a player they want. The Yankees can’t be stopped. Reality check time, Texas.

  4. Sal says:

    Lee and CC. I can’t wait. I would say they are the best 1-2 combo in baseball. Who would the number 1 starter be?

  5. Steve says:

    The tax thing is overblown – if he goes to Texas there is a good chance he would remain an Arkansas resident (of course Lee would try and claim TX residency, but it might be difficult) in which case he would pay tax on all his income – if Arkansas resident he would pay 7% tax on all income and then get a credit for taxes paid elsewhere.

    • Baseball players pay state income tax on where they play. If the Rangers plays six games in New York next year, Rangers players will pay tax on 6/162 of their salary to the State of New York. So no, he won’t be paying to Arkansas.

  6. Yank the Frank says:

    Lets not count the chickens yet. We thought we had him once before.

  7. bottom line says:

    Four $20 mill contracts can be managed, assuming some contributions from the farm. With, say, seven young salary-controlled players Yanks should be fine (so long as CC and Cliff are healthy and effective of course). I think we can get seven from among Zeus, Romine, Killer B’s, Warren, Stoneburner, Nunez, Laird etc. Will still be able to replace Cano, Swish and Grandy in three or four years as those fairly large contracts come off the books. Only downside, IMO, less margin for error if guys making big bucks go down.

    • The Yankees still have the flexibility to add players mid-season if they need to. I think it’s why Hal sticks to a soft cap on the payroll before the season, so the team can still allocate an additional 5-10 million to be used during the season to plug holes. Don’t forget he approved taking on Berkman/Wood money this year when they were deemed necessary to fill holes.

  8. I guess Nolan’s wealthy oil buddies weren’t willing to pony up millions of their own cash just to retain a single pitcher.

  9. vin says:

    Smart move by the Rangers… even if its nothing more than reality for them. Better off putting that money towards extending the likes of Hamilton, Cruz, Kinsler, Wilson, Holland, etc. As great as Cliff Lee is, that contract would completely hamstring them.

  10. The Ancient Mariner says:

    I wouldn’t count my chickens before they hatched just yet.

  11. Sam says:

    Lee: Guys, the Yankees offered more money, have a better team, have shown the ability and willingness to spend money, and play in New York. What can you do for me?

    Ryan: Do you remember the Alamo?

    • Mattchu12 says:

      Honestly, with their youth and yet still high caliber ball club, if the Rangers are willing to pay me near what the Yankees are willing to pay me, I gotta admit that I’d take more than a little while to think about it.

      The Rangers made the Yankees look REALLY old during the ALCS.

      • Big Stein says:

        Yeah, pitching in 109 degree heat for three months is a blast.

      • vin says:

        The Yanks didn’t look old against the Twins. It’s funny how a team looks old when they lose. Outside of Rivera, the most important players on the Yankees are in and around their primes – Tex, Cano, CC, Swisher, Granderson, Hughes, Gardner.

        This narrative needs to end.

        • Mattchu12 says:

          I never said I’d pick the Rangers over the Yankees, or that we weren’t going to be good long term. I’m just saying that the Rangers have a lot of young exciting talent when you think about Andrus, Kinsler, Hamilton, Cruz, Moreland, Wilson, Felix, and Holland.

      • Kiersten says:

        Who sucked in the ALCS? CC and Hughes. Who knows, though, they might have made Hughes look 25.

      • bexarama says:

        They just looked terrible. They didn’t necessarily look old. And all that excitement and youth couldn’t stop the Rangers from looking even worse in the WS.

  12. nathan says:

    I hope they XRay and MRI the heck out of his back, oblique and shoulder. Another 20 Mill player, 2014 and beyond will be ugly as heck.

  13. Chris A says:

    I have no problem believing that Ryan thinks the Yankees will outbid the Rangers, but why announce it to the media? Does it help his team in anyway?

    • nathan says:

      Lulling the Yanks?

    • vin says:

      Not sure if it helps the Rangers, but it makes them more sympathetic, and explains to the fans that Cliff Lee is just another all-about-the-money player*.

      * and so is every single player… as they should be.

      • Avi says:

        I had Chris’ same question and thought of what Vin said as the most logical reason.
        I don’t think they’re trying to lull the Yankees.
        A) I don’t think Grand Pa Ryan is that smart.
        B) The Yankees gauge the price of Lee based on their conversations with his agent. Not By a comment made in the press by one of Texas’ front office people.

        • vin says:

          I think you nailed it with B. I believe the Yanks met with Lee, and said they would go to a certain number ($ and years). Then when the Rangers met with Lee, they were made fully aware of the Yanks’ willingness to go to that number.

          There ability to spend with the Yanks up to that point was speculation on the Rangers behalf. That meeting in Arkansas gave them an idea as to what kind of business the Yanks mean.

          And on top of that, Nolan gets to spin this to his fan base that they will not be the highest bidder (probably not by a long shot), and must put the honus on Lee to choose Texas because of the team, the fans, the bbq, whatever.

          It’s a PR move at this point. Kind of like the Brewers offering CC 5/100 when everyone knew the Yanks were willing to blow that out of the water. Helps them save face by at least offering a contract.

    • toad says:

      Who knows. I wouldn’t take it as a concession, though.

  14. Kenny Powers says:


  15. Big Stein says:

    When Lee signs, watch Texas will finally make good on their numerous threats to secede from the Union.

    Don’t mess with tex-mex!

  16. Jimbo says:

    Nolan Ryan is the Pat Reiley of baseball, I wouldn’t trust anything he says untill Lee is signed, sealed delivered.

  17. Sal says:

    Years 4 and five of Lee’s contract may get dicey.

  18. pat says:


  19. ShuutoHeat says:

    But everything in Texas is BIGGER.
    That’s a selling point right? Right guys?

  20. Sean C says:

    Shouldn’t everyone in the league know that the Yankees can (and will if they want/need to) blow everyone else’s offer out of the water? I’m not sure why this seems like a recent development to Ryan…

    I can’t wait for everyone to start bitching about salary caps and money-hungry players always going to the rich, asshole NY Yankees. They can complain all they want while I enjoy watching Lee don the pinstripes and mow down batters.

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