LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.
The Yankees are in the waters they insisted they wouldn't venture into.
For that, they have their rival to thank.
Shortly after the Red Sox stunned baseball with their signing of Carl Crawford – for seven years and $142 million – late Wednesday night, the Yankees went to a seventh year in their offer for Cliff Lee, a source Thursday morning.
General manager Brian Cashman, speaking after the Rule 5 draft later in the morning, wasn't saying much about the new offer, which in total could surpass the seven-year, $161-million deal CC Sabathia received two years ago.
“I wouldn’t say,” Cashman said.
Si.com first reported the new offer, which came after the Yankees offered six years for around $140 million Wednesday afternoon.
Rangers president Nolan Ryan, appearing on Mike and Mike in the Morning Thursday on ESPN Radio, seemed to indicate a seventh year might take his team out of the running.
ESPN.com, however, reported later that a team contingent was headed to Lee’s Arkansas home for a Thursday afternoon meeting.
Cashman said no further visits to Arkansas, "today," he said, as he was planning to take his scheduled 12:45 p.m. flight home to New York Thursday without a “surprise detour in store.”
"Will I [make more trips]?” Cashman said. “If necessary.”
Angels GM Tony Reagins said his team remained interested in Lee, though the Angesls are considered a distant third in the Lee chase, behind the Yankees and Rangers.
On Mike and Mike, Ryan didn’t sound as optimistic about the Rangers’ chances as he had earlier in the week.
"We have to be concerned about that because seven years for any contract is really stretching it out," Ryan said. "And I don't know how you predict how anyone is performing six or seven years from now. Everything has a ceiling that they have to understand what it is. And it doesn't make economic sense after a certain threshold.”
Cashman said the Crawford deal -- and the Red Sox adding another good left-handed bat in Adrian Gonzalez at the start of the meetings -- didn’t increase the team’s desire to get Lee because it was high already.
“Our desire is the same today as it was prior to that signing,” Cashman said. “I don’t think you can increase it any more. We have a significant interest in Cliff Lee. We’ve communicated that, they know it and they’re in a position to make some decisions as they collect the information on their end and that’s how it works.”