Cliff Lee’s Potential Contract | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Cliff Lee’s Potential Contract

As we have already mentioned on this site, the selections for the Gold Glove were confusing.  With guys like Jeter winning this once prestigious award, it may be best to now consider it completely meaningless.  What a joke.  Papi’s option was picked up and will inevitably be regarded as a gross overpayment.  This is the one that baffles me, though: Cliff Lee is asking for 7 years at over $160 million.  What?  This guy is 32.

I consider Cliff Lee to be easily the top free agent on the market, as well as one of the top 3 pitchers in the game, probably at the very top of the list.  His K/BB was over 10 in 2010.  He made it to 200 IP with insane efficiency and has the rare ability to pitch deep into every start despite high K totals.  Any team would be lucky to have him…for a few years.  Not 7.

The misconception here revolves around the assumption that Lee’s style of pitching will age well because he is a control specialist.  Wrong.  Every pitcher suffers when they lose pace.  Lee is no soft thumber.  The guy touches the mid-90’s in most starts with the 4-seamer.  Lee’s control is the best in the game, but 88 is not enough to get in on the plate to elite right-handed bats, and his slot already generates a lot of balls in the air to that half of the plate.  Nothing unusual there.  Most lefties from that slot are going to generate a lot of flyballs.  Think Hamels and Parra.  Assuming that Lee will no longer be reaching the same velocities at the end of this contract, we are left with the question of how he will perform with less pace.  Will he be $20 million a season good?

Well, who is $20 million a season good?  I consider that amount to mean something along the lines of “top-5 in the game”.  Cliff is without a doubt that good now.  If he ages like a normal human being, then his decline likely already started, which means the length of this contract is financially imprudent at best.  At worst, they are being the Yankees of old.  I thought that with Brian Cashman at the helm, the years of overpaying for aging veterans were over.  They have 3 excellent catching prospects and a handful of elite minor league arms that they could trade for Zack Greinke, along with plenty of dough to also sign two great bats.

This is going to be a terrible contract.  My guess is that it eventually turns into a 6-year, mutual option for a 7th with a no-trade clause, and some kind of IP incentive after the 4th year type of contract.  At that point, maybe it’s not looking quite as bad, but it’s still absurd if you ask me.  All the while I am hearing talk of Braun, Werth, Pena, and Greinke landing in Boston.  What the Yankees need to remember is that there will be baseball in New York when Jeter retires, and that the expectations will be no different when that day arrives.

The AL East is going to look a lot different this season.

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