Yankees Must Respond to Red Sox by Signing Cliff Lee
The arms race between the AL East powerhouses Boston and New York has been taken to new heights this offseason after stellar moves by the Red Sox. As a result, the Yankees now have no choice but to sign left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee to combat the additions of lefties Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford by Boston. Lee could not be in a better position to get the deal he wants from the Yankees.
Before the Red Sox’s moves the Yankees were reportedly hesitant to give Lee a seventh year, but that will not be a problem anymore. The Yankees likely would have been the highest bidders in terms of dollars but with the lack of a state income tax in Texas, the Rangers could have offered Lee a similar net compensation. There’s no way that can happen now. Yankees GM Brian Cashman is going to offer whatever it takes and it would seem the Yankees might again pay far more than they have to in order to ensure they get their man.
The Red Sox scored 818 runs last year — second most in baseball behind the Yankees’ 859. Crawford scored 110 runs last year and Gonzalez drove in 101. Crawford also stole 47 bases last year, while Gonzalez hit 31 home runs, only 11 of which came in his former home, power-robbing PETCO Park. Gonzalez hits well to the opposite field and should see a lot of what used to be fly-ball outs to left at PETCO turn into home runs and doubles off-the-wall at Fenway Park.
Last year’s AL East champs, the Rays, are sure to take a step back having already lost Crawford and Carlos Pena, and the Yankees haven’t made any moves to improve their club yet this offseason.
After Lee there are no real difference-making free agents on the market, so the Yankees have to get him. Crawford hit nearly 50 points lower against lefties than he did righties last year. The Red Sox and Yankees are both locks for the playoffs next year and despite some signs of being human last year, Lee has a track record of being as close as it comes to a sure thing in the playoffs.
Though in recent days it seemed like the Rangers just might be able to do enough to retain Lee, those days seem long gone. The Yankee must and will again go over-the-top to bring in the guy they want — and that guy is Cliff Lee.