Could the Yankees end up with Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford? It's a remote possibility, but it can't be completely dismissed, either.
An industry source confirmed Friday that Brian Cashman spoke with Crawford's agent Thursday, but the Yankees' foremost goal at the winter meetings remains landing Lee.
A source told Newsday at last month's GM meetings that Crawford is a "Plan B" should Lee sign elsewhere. But an industry source said Friday there's still a chance that the Yankees will pursue the outfielder even if Lee ends up in pinstripes, though it wouldn't be at the expense of blowing up the 2011 budget.
Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said after the season that he expected the budget for 2011 to be "within the same level'' as 2010, which was in the neighborhood of $206 million.
It is almost mathematically impossible for the Yankees to re-sign Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte (if he decides to come back; a source close to the lefthander has said he's leaning in that direction), Lee (who is expected to get at least $20 million per year) and Crawford (expected to get up to $17 million a year) and keep the payroll in that $206-million neighborhood.
But if Pettitte, who made $11.75 million last year and figures to get about the same should he come back, were to retire and the Yankees decided to trade one of their outfielders, Crawford's salary potentially could fit within the budget.
As of now, Cashman is talking with Crawford's agent, Greg Genske, and there is a chance of a sit-down at the winter meetings, which start Monday in Orlando. Cashman's methodology every offseason is to stay in the loop with all major free agents.