TORONTO - Baseball’s free agent market has picked up some steam this week and you can expect the momentum to build right through the baseball winter meetings in a couple of weeks time.
Beyond the rumblings that the Yankees are offering Cliff Lee a six-year deal for $140 million US, a couple of players have signed on the dotted line.
Victor Martinez became the biggest name to move, going from Boston to the Detroit Tigers in a four-year, $50 million deal. Earlier Tuesday, Aubrey Huff re-signed with the World Series champion Giants on a two-year, $22 million arrangement which, on the surface looks like a gigantic overpay.
Meanwhile, the Yankees are engaged in a very public game of chicken with their captain, Derek Jeter.
The Yankees are rumoured to have offered three years at $15 million a year. According to ESPN’s Wallace Matthews, Yanks GM Brian Cashman said: “You can write that they have asked for more. More money and more years.”
Cashman has suggested Jeter and his agent Casey Close get a reality check.
“We’ve encouraged him to test the market and see if there’s something he would prefer other than this,” Cashman told Wallace. “If he can, fine. That’s the way it works.”
If the Yankees are, indeed, offering six years and $140 million to Lee, it would make him the highest paid pitcher, at least in annual salary. But Lee is said to be holding out for a seventh year and a total package that would surpass CC Sabathia’s $161 million deal.
At that point, it’s unlikely the Yankees would be bidding against anybody but themselves though that doesn’t seem to have stopped them in the past.