Rumor Round-up: Lee, Greinke, Downs


Slowly, slowly, the Hot Stove League is beginning to heat up…

Rangers to offer Lee five years

If the Yankees want to sign Cliff Lee, they’re going to have to make a significant commitment to him. While George A. King reported yesterday that the Yanks seem to have an easy path to landing Lee, today, he notes that the Rangers are set to offer five years to Lee. King believes the Yanks are willing to go six years for Lee at around $23 million per, and the Rangers are not expected to meet that offer.

The Rangers, says King, will try to convince Lee that he’s better off in a state that features lower taxes and is closer to home. But Lee seems to want the dollars. If it’s only about the money, the Yankees will land their guy, but I can’t be the only one nervous about paying yet another guy on the wrong side of 30 more than $20 million annually through 2016.

Yanks wary of Greinke’s Bronx desires

Yesterday afternoon, we reported on a rumor involving Zack Greinke. Supposedly, the Royals’ ace claimed he was amenable to pitching in New York despite earlier reports to the contrary. In the same King story linked above, The Post scribe notes that the Yanks are still wary of Greinke’s make-up. The Yanks, he says, “don’t buy it.” They believe he “does not want to pitch under the burning lights of the Yankees’ universe.” The Bombers are also unwilling to give up Jesus Montero, and it is believed that any package would start with the Yanks’ young stud.

Scott Downs, Type A, too costly for Bronx bullpen

With Damaso Marte out until forever at least the All Star Break, the Yankees want to find another southpaw to complement Boone Logan. To that end, Scott Downs is an appealing target. He’s been very effective for the Blue Jays for the past six years, and lefties in 2010 were just 12 for 79 (.152) against him.

Yet, the Yankees, says Ken Davidoff, will probably not pursue him. For one, Downs will turn 35 shortly before Opening Day, and for another, he’s a Type A free agent who declined arbitration. If the Yanks sign Cliff Lee, they’d give up a second-round draft pick for Downs, and if they don’t land Lee, Downs would cost them a first-rounder in a talent-rich draft. Cashman, says Davidoff, “doesn’t want to give up the draft pick.” Giving Downs the Damaso Marte money he’ll want and having to surrender a draft pick makes this alluring free agent simply too costly.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. MattG says:

    Lee will age well. I am buoyed by this:

    I say, “Give him ten years!”

    • Using my own chart against me. Well played, Matt. Well played.

      Lee is a control freak. That certainly weighs in his favor. But if they sign Lee to a five- or six-year deal at $23 per, they’d be on the hook in 2015 for nearly $100 million to just A-Rod, Teixeira, Sabathia and Lee, all of whom will be 35 or, in A-Rod’s case, much older.

      • RobC says:

        Any stats on how control freaks like Lee age?
        I would think they do better vs guys who throw consisantly 90+ mph but K/BB less than 2.

        On the hook for $100 million to 4 guys. Not good but is that going to be the price of doing business for a play-off team every year?

      • crawdaddie says:

        If things go badly in 2015, it might have to be 2008 all over again in which the Yankees are stagnant that season, but maybe have won another WS or two in the previous four seasons.

  2. Fair Weather Freddy says:

    I don’t think I’d go to 6 years on Lee. Five is the limit, even if you have to go higher in dollars

    • vin says:

      Someone in Cliff Lee’s position is looking at the total value of the contract (probably somewhere around 132 mill), not annual salary. If Lee feels he’s worth 132 million, then the market will dictate how many years he should get to earn that 132. 6 years would be 22 mill per, and 5 years would be 26.4 mill per. The CC and Santana contracts indicate that 6 years is appropriate for Lee.

      CC is averaging 23 million per year, and Santana is averaging 22.9 over his contract (6 years). Considering the age of those guys when they signed, and Cliff Lee’s lack of leverage, 22 mill is a fair salary.

  3. pat says:

    Of all the people on the wrong side of 30 making 20+ mil Lee would be the one I worry about the least.

    • Reggie C. says:

      I’m adopting the same line of thought. I like Cliff Lee’s chances of maintaining his stuff and command going into his late 40s. He’ll be a special case like Jamie Moyer, who according to B-REF, had some remarkable seasons.

  4. vin says:

    Let’s just hope this is the Rangers’ version of Milwaukee offering CC 5/100. Save some face with the fan base – paint the player as a money-hungry, ill-begotten, s.o.b.

    I just can’t see the Rangers approaching 20+ million over 5 or 6 years for a guy who plays once every 5 days. Doesn’t seem like a sustainable way to run that particular franchise.

  5. SamVa says:

    I think if you are going to go six years for a pitcher over thirty you do it for Lee.
    His control is way too good for him not to be able to continue his dominance for a long time.. Maybe later in his career he will become Mussina-like in the last year or so of his career?

    Or better.

  6. Johnny O (no alias) says:

    Give Lee an Opt Out after the 3rd year. He could take it and view it as an opportunity for one big final pay day. By that time, hopefully 1 of the Killer B’s is on their way to becoming an above-average ML starter and we can let somebody else pay Lee for his declining phase.

  7. T-Dubs says:

    I’m really curious if they go 6 years, if they’ll build in an opt-out like CC’s.

    • vin says:

      I may be wrong, but I think the opt-outs are usually added at the request of the player, not the team. However, in this case, it might make some sense for the Yanks – although when it comes to starting pitching, they’ll always be the highest bidder… which is why I don’t think CC will opt out.

      I do wonder, however, if the Yanks pay Lee more than 23/year (ie more than CC), will CC opt out in hopes of re-signing for more money. As we’ve seen through the years, these guys are all very competitive and don’t like to be slighted in any way. May be another reason for the Yanks to add that 6th year for Lee – try to keep the AAV low.

      • When it comes to starting pitching, they’ll always be the highest bidder… which is why I don’t think CC will opt out.

        Isn’t that precisely why he would opt-out? He’ll go back to the market and end up resigning with the Yankees. He gets to stay in New York (where he wants to be), but gets a bump in salary and an extra year or two tacked on to his tenure in pinstripes, since the Yankees will once again be the high bidder for his services.

        • vin says:

          You’re probably right, but only if CC is convinced the Yanks won’t let him walk. If he opts out, will the Yanks be willing to increase his salary and/or extend him beyond his current deal? Since the Yanks are the biggest spenders (by a large margin), they always have the leverage in those circumstances. Fortunately, Hank isn’t running the team – thinking specifically about the ARod fiasco.

          • Sayid J. says:

            I don’t really think the Yankees have the leverage with CC. Some other team will give him $20+ million if the Yankees don’t, while it would not be easy for the Yankees to just let CC walk.

            • vin says:

              Yeah, but CC won’t walk for 20 million… I thnk the Yanks would be willing to extend his deal at his current 23 mill rate. The question is if another team would pay him 23+ over 6 or 7 years. As it stands right now, that’s a number only the Yanks are can go to. The Mets already have Santana on the payroll, Boston went with the quantity over quality approach to their rotation (outside of Lester). The Angels, Tigers and Rockies are looking to spend all their money this offseason. The Dodgers financial situation may still be in flux at that time.

        • Jimmy McNulty says:

          If Cliff Lee signs they’ll probably just extend him another year so he doesn’t opt out. I doubt he’ll get a significant bump in salary.

    • I don’t know why they would; giving him a player option won’t help the Yankees, it’ll only hurt the Yankees in all probability.

      The chances of Lee (or CC, for that matter) opting out of his contract and subsequently being told to kick rocks because the team has lucked into finding a younger, better alternative on the market that particular winter are slim.

      The chances of Lee (and CC, for that matter) opting out of his contract and then using the leverage gained by the fact that he’s likely still the best option available to the team that particular winter to negotiate an extension that means a higher AAV and more of his decline years paid for are high.

      ARod’s player opt-out cost the Yankees more money and more decline years. CC’s opt-out will likely do the same. I can’t imagine they’d willingly agree to a player opt-out for Lee’s contract, that’s Russian Roulette.

      It’s too small a reward for too great a risk.

      • Clay Bellinger says:

        Yeah, player options are really only good for the player, not the team. If the player feels like he can get a better deal on the open market than what remains on his current contract, he opts out. If not, he’ll just choose not to excercise the option and remain under his existing contract. It’s an awesome option for the player to have.

      • Johnny O (no alias) says:

        ARod’s opt-out cost the Yankees money and more decline years because Hank Steinbrenner’s an idiot. Just like Tom Hicks was an idiot when he gave ARod the original 10 year $252M deal just to retardedly double kevin Garnett’s contract. (I bet Boras came up with that one)

        Nobody forced the Yankees to give ARod the deal they gave him after he opted out. It ceratinly wasn’t pressure from the other teams. Just like nobody’s forcing them to increase their offer to Jeter from 3/$45M.

        If they truly outbid themselves for CC 2 years ago, who’s to say another team would come close to outbiddingthe Yankees? Same with a theoretical Lee signing after an opt-out?

        • Chris says:

          The Yankees would have given A-Rod more in any new deal than he had remaining when he opted out, regardless of Hank. It’s really the last 3-4 years and $100M that were the bad part of A-Rods deal, and even at 7/$200M opting out would have been the right move for him.

          As for CC, didn’t the Angels offer him 6 years and a similar AAV?

      • Jimmy McNulty says:

        If it’s a three year opt out for Cliff Lee wouldn’t that be a potential great reward? Get him from ages 32-34, and if he’s good he can opt out for a longer deal and let someone who likes MLB senior citizens sign him from 35-40. A-Rod’s opt out is the reason why Hank no longer runs the baseball opps.

  8. Yank the Frank says:

    With Lee the rotation looks so good:

    Andy (hope)

    Without Lee it looks suspect:
    Andy (hope)

    • Sayid J. says:

      Without Lee it looks exactly like it did last year, except without Vazquez and with somebody who would likely produce at a higher level. Obviously the rotation looks dominant with Lee, but I woudn’t say I have any concerns about the rotation without Lee.

    • Chris says:

      Without Lee, the rotation looks similar to the 2009 rotation. That’s far from bad, and there’s still the opportunity to trade for another established starter.

      • Jimmy McNulty says:

        Similar to the 2009 rotation except worse, probably two replacement level starters to start the season. At the beginning of 2009 they had CC/Wang/AJ/Andy/Joba, people were high on just about everyone in the rotation.

        • I have to hope that AJ can do better than replacement level in 2011, if not for the sake of my sanity than for the sake of the Yanks’ success.

          • Jimmy McNulty says:

            Ehh, I see him improving about the same amount most people see Jeter improving, slight improvement if anything. He has a long history of injury issues, he seemingly lost his stuff (particularly his curve ball) last year; he’s not the type of pitcher that ages well and he has a lot of innings and injuries on that arm.

        • Chris says:

          I meant the 2010 rotation, not 2009.

          Stupid calendar changing years on me.

  9. Steve H says:

    I wouldn’t want to give him 6 years, but if that’s what it takes to land him, that’s what it takes. The payoff now is worth the potential problem down the road.

    • The payoff now is worth the potential problem down the road.


      Besides, by 2015 when Lee’s decline is at its nadir and his contract is an albatross, President Palin and VP Rand Paul will have signed legislation eliminating all financial and corporate regulation and thus enabling Yankee Global Enterprises LLC to declare itself an offshore bank with residency in the Netherlands Antilles, enabling us to spend 1.4B per year on player salaries while only declaring 80M as official payroll (so we can just sign 4 new starters to replace the declining Lee, ARod, CC, and Tex) while also “officially” making every player under contract a citizen of the now-autonomous Kashmir region (where they are free to inject themselves with massive amounts of PED and not subject to MLB drug testing requirements.)

      It’s gonna be awesome.

  10. Jimmy McNulty says:

    They need to step it up for Cliff Lee. Either sign him for just money or give up too much young talent for Zack Greinke.

  11. JobaWockeeZ says:

    I laughed at ‘unwilling to give up Montero.’

    Yeah, right.

  12. A.D. says:

    The Bombers are also unwilling to give up Jesus Montero, and it is believed that any package would start with the Yanks’ young stud.

    For Grienke? Because they were obviously willing to trade him

    • Yeah. They don’t want to give him up for Greinke. Also, it’s possible and quite likely that while the Yanks would have traded Montero for Lee four or five months ago, they now view him as their starting catcher and consider him untradeable. In reality, Montero would have been moved in one — and maybe a second — deal. That hardly shows a willingness to trade him in all but the most extenuating of circumstances.

      • That too. Montero’s value to the franchise has gone up, likely due to ARod, Jeter, and Tex’s down years. Perhaps the franchise has come to the realization that they need his young power bat in the lineup for the next decade now more than ever.

        • pete says:

          That, and at the time they were willing to trade Montero for Lee, he hadn’t proved yet that he could eat all of triple-A for breakfast and by hungry by lunch.

          At this point, the 2011 Yankees really, really need Jesus Montero. He’s not going anywhere unless somebody else does something really stupid.

    • They were willing to trade him for Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Perhaps they’re unwilling to do so for Zack Greinke.

      I’m sure that if that’s the case, it’s because they’re gunshy about Greinke’s SAD issues. Which may be a valid concern, all things considered. It’s all about risk mitigation.

      • Jimmy McNulty says:

        Or the fact that Zack Greinke had a subhuman 2009, but had an ERA+ of 100 last year, sure he was better than his RA suggested, but still…he’s still living off that freakish 2009.

  13. Jimmy McNulty says:

    From MLBTR’s chat today:

    [Comment From joeman]
    chances of Lee signing with Tex instead of NYY
    Ben Nicholson-Smith: I’ll put them at 30%

  14. Shirley Hans says:

    Seems like most of the responders above are forgetting that Lee has a bad back and bad backs seldom get better only worse. They already have an ace in Sabathia. I would rather see the Yankees save some money and go for a second or third line starter by trade since there isn’t much out there in free agents.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.