In his first three appearances in the 2010 postseason, Cliff Lee was flawless. Over 24 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees, Lee allowed a total of two runs and tallied 34 strikeouts.
Heading into Game 1 of the World Series, most were sure that Lee would dominate the offensively-challenged San Francisco Giants. However, the Rangers were routed in the series with Lee taking two losses in the opening Game 1 and critical Game 5 of the series.
Now the Rangers are in the offseason and Lee is a free agent. The Rangers find themselves battling against a familiar foe for Lee, the New York Yankees.
Lee, dubbed a “Yankee Killer,” pitched eight strong innings against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS, giving up two hits and striking out 13.
Lee also faced the Yankees last year in the World Series while playing for the Philadelphia Phillies. While playing for Philadelphia, Lee posted two wins against the Yankees in the 2009 World Series. His two games included 13 strikeouts while giving up six runs. The Yankees would like nothing more than to add their “kryptonite” to their lineup.
The Rangers still have an opportunity to keep Lee. After Game 5, Lee commented on his upcoming free agency.
“I want to be on a winning team,” Lee said. “I want to be on a team, if not this team, like this team. The most fun I’ve had playing the game [was] with these guys. It’s been a good ride. I’ve enjoyed every single second of it.”
Every Ranger fan loved Lee’s 17-week stint with the Rangers; however they may be disappointed this offseason if he strays from the team. Over the past two years, Lee has been a part of four teams, including the Cleveland Indians, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Seattle Mariners, as well as the Texas Rangers. It appears if he could be on the move again.
The Yankees are prepared to throw all kinds of money at Lee to get him on board. Lee could be looking at a three-year deal worth $60 million from the Yankees. Expect the Rangers to offer a counter offer of something around two years for $22 million.
A possible dark horse contender for Lee may be the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox have lost their dominant role in the AL East and wish nothing more than to regain it.
Ultimately, the decision is up to Lee. He wants to be a part of a winning team. The Yankees and Rangers both meet that requirement. But of course, the money is a big factor. The Yankees began talking with Lee starting Sunday. Only time will tell if Lee will remain in Texas or head to the Bronx in pinstripes.
Jack Matusek is a freshman broadcast journalism from Shiner.