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Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee and Carlos Beltran

Carl Crawford looks to sign under a tag

Carl Crawford looks to sign under a tag in an early-season game against the Yankees. (April 11, 2010) Credit: AP

Mid-day break:

--Brian Cashman met with Carl Crawford last night, at a restaurant near the winter meetings site. I continue to think this is more bluff than reality.

First of all, the Yankees almost certainly aren't signing both Crawford and Cliff Lee. I just don't see it happening.

And they can talk about Crawford serving as a Plan B, but think about it: What do the Yankees need more than anything else? A top-flight starting pitcher.

How do they achieve that?

1) Sign Lee, as Joe Girardi wants.

2) Sign Crawford, and trade one of their current outfielders for a top-flight pitcher.

OK, first of all, Crawford is going to wind up being more overpaid than Lee, as ace starting pitchers are far more valuable than leftfielders.

Second of all, the only top-flight starting pitcher available is Kansas City's Zach Greinke, and that looks like a huge long shot.

So as much as Lee's deliberation is annoying the Yankeee - Lee's agent Darek Braunecker reportedly has left the meetings - they're just going to have to wait. And it seems like they're inclined to not to commit to any of their secondary needs - lefty relief, righty-hitting outfielder, perhaps a catcher - until they resolve the Lee situation.

--Scott Boras said that Carlos Beltran intends to be a Met in 2011. That'll probably be the case, since it's difficult to see the Mets getting sufficient value back for Beltran. But if a good trade did surface...remember, Beltran would still get to control his destiny because he has full no-trade protection.

--The White Sox re-signed Paul Konerko, continuing a strong offseason. Next up: Low-cost bullpen help.

--The Royals signed Jeff Francoeur, which has been inevitable for a while now because Royals GM Dayton Moore knew Francoeur when they were together on the Braves. Good luck with that, Kansas City.

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