Why The Yankees Shouldn’t Sign Cliff Lee

This offseason the Yankees will most likely lose 2/5 of their starting rotation. Javier Vazquez has an expiring contract and is unlikely to be resigned while Pettitte will probably retire. The void will have to be filled somehow, and most Yankee fans want to sign the ace they missed at the trade deadline, Cliff Lee.

Lee, will headline a relatively thin free agent class for starting pitchers. Other notable free agent starting pitchers include Jon Garland, Ted Lilly, Jeff Suppan, Jake Westbrook, and Todd Wellemeyer.

Two offseasons ago, the Yankees signed Sabathia, Burnett, and Teixeira and each played a key role in winning the Yankees’ 27th World Series title. The Yankees gave a 31-year-old AJ Burnett $82,500,000 over 5 years. AJ was coming off a 18-win season, but nobody was blind enough to think he was a #1 starter. In a free agent market without another ace, 32-year-old Cliff Lee will demand a lot more than AJ Burnett’s 82.5 million.

Cliff Lee will be 32 this offseason, but to bring a true ace to your team, GM’s know they have to pay up. A 5-6 year $100,000,000 contract is probably a conservative estimate considering Sabathia signed with New York for 7 years $161,000,000.

A contract over 5 years to a 32 starting pitcher means that we’ll be paying a 37-year-old Cliff Lee around 20 million dollars. Sabathia, Burnett, and Lee would be more expensive than a lot of teams and by 2014 wouldn’t even be a spectacular tandem.

A wiser strategy would be to rely on the farm and more reasonable free agents. Minor league prospects Ivan Nova, Dellin Betances, and Manny Banuelos could be worth a look.  The Yankees could sign Jake Westbrook, Jon Garland, and Ted Lilly and still save money. Would these three really contribute less than Cliff Lee alone?

A deep rotation of Sabathia, Hughes, Westbrook, Garland, Lilly, and Burnett sounds pretty good and avoiding a long contract that is almost a sure thing to be a bad deal come year 4 of the contract sounds even better.

The bottom line is, whatever teams signs Cliff Lee will likely over pay and it shouldn’t be the Yankees.

Tommy, I know you love Cliff Lee, but c’mon!


5 thoughts on “Why The Yankees Shouldn’t Sign Cliff Lee

  1. You make some very compelling points, Ryan. It would obviously be a great short-run move, but probably not so great in the long run. If they could somehow get him to sign for like three or even four years, and/or with a front-loaded contract, it would be great. But that seems unlikely.

  2. Ivan Nova pitched well and has already taken over Javier Vazquez’s rotation slot, making Cliff Lee even less needed.

  3. Worth noting…according to Ken Rosenthal the Yankees can’t afford to sign Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford if they resign their own free agents.

  4. Pingback: The Little Moves That Matter « Ryan's Rants & Tommy's Tirades

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