The New York Yankees offered Cliff Lee a new contract that would make him one of the highest paid players in the game. The contract with the Yankees is estimated to be at about $140 million over the next six years, and would make him more than $20 million per season for its duration. The exact breakdown of what his salary would be for each year of that contract has not been released, but if it is a typical Yankees deal, then the salaries will probably escalate until it runs out.
According to ESPN, this is only considered an initial offer, intended to give Lee his first formal contract offer of the offseason. It likely means that Lee could make even more money than this, and that it will just turn into a jumping-off point to where the contract he eventually signs will be in total dollars.
It seems pretty obvious at this point that another team could come along and offer him $25 million per season over that same time, and push it to a total of $150 million over six years. You could also bet that if a team was willing to tack on a seventh year, they would become the favorite to sign him.
It is also worth noting that CC Sabathia got $161 million over seven years when he signed with the Yankees. This contract with Lee seems to be willing to pay him even more than that. It is entirely possible that Lee could soon become the highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball; the team that signs him is really going to have to hope he doesn’t hurt himself during the duration.
Last season, Lee split time between the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers, ending the year with a 3.18 ERA, a 12-9 record, and 185 strikeouts. His postseason success with the Rangers was what caused his value to skyrocket, and now there are many teams around baseball that want to get their hands on his pitching talents. The Yankees may be the front runners in this race simply because they have a contract offer on the table now, but it is safe to assume that someone else is going to follow this up with a better offer.
This is going to be a long offseason for the baseball world, and everyone has always believed that Lee would be the free agent who walked away with the biggest payday. Carl Crawford has already agreed to terms on a new deal with the Boston Red Sox, and that could really force the Yankees into a corner when it comes to making a decision on offering Lee more money.