ARLINGTON, Texas - If free-agent-to-be Cliff Lee has any questions this offseason about life as a New Yorker, CC Sabathia has said he'll make himself available to give his friend all the answers he needs.
Until then, however, the longest-tenured Ranger, Michael Young, said he will continue to sell Lee on the positives of life deep in the heart of Texas.
"Cliff knows this is a great place to play, and he's said that in all of our conversations," Young said Thursday at Rangers Ballpark. "It's pretty obvious right now that we've got a good thing going."
But how long will Lee be a part of the Rangers' "good thing?" The 32-year-old lefthander is not tipping his hand.
"I don't really get caught up in that at all, to be honest with you," Lee said. "I'm a Texas Ranger right now, we're in a good position and we're going to try and win a World Series ring. That's where my focus is."
As the Yankees and Rangers prepare to start their series Friday night, the impending Lee free-agency battle is an intriguing subplot here. These teams are expected to be two of the strongest suitors for Lee, who figures to be the most sought- after free agent this offseason.
It won't be the first time the Yankees and Rangers engage in a competition for Lee. The Yankees nearly acquired him before the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline, but they balked at a last-minute request by the Mariners, which gave the Rangers just enough time to swoop in and acquire the lefthander.
Lee went 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA during a three-month stint that Young believes has been long enough to convince Lee there's many good reasons for him to stick around long-term.
"As a teammate I want him here," said Young, in his 10th season with the Rangers and signed through 2013. "I know how much he means to our team and how much better we are with him. I'm sure if you ask Cliff, he'll say the same thing . . . What he wants to do in the future is completely up to him."
When asked to put a percentage on the chances Lee re-signs with Texas, Young laughed and said, "I couldn't and I wouldn't."