LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Yankees have made the first big move in the pursuit of free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee, and it could be a difficult blow to handle for the Rangers. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed his club made an offer to Lee on Wednesday during the Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort. There are reports that it's a six-year deal worth $140 million and the long drawn-out process may be coming to a conclusion. "He's somebody worth waiting for," Cashman said. "We hope he picks us. This is somebody who is worth waiting for. I think he's got all the information he needs from us."
The Yankees' offer could bump Texas if the Rangers continue to insist on not going beyond five years. The Rangers met with Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, for the third straight day. General manager Jon Daniels declined to say if the Rangers had made an offer, but they have had extensive talks and they are no longer just preliminary. Braunecker left the meetings on Wednesday afternoon and flew back to Arkansas to confer with Lee and his wife Kristen. The Rangers still believe they are in the process and have not been eliminated from consideration. "I think we know more than we got here," Daniels said. "We haven't made any secret of our interest in the player." Texas hasn't given up pursuit of Lee, but the club continues to discuss other options and a new one was presented on Wednesday when the Rangers met with Carl Crawford's agent. Crawford wasn't on the Rangers' priority list when they arrived here, but may fall into a contingency plan if they aren't able to address their starting pitcher needs. The Rangers could decide to upgrade the club in other areas if they don't get the starting pitchers that they need. They acknowledged for the first time their interest in Crawford. "We want to get better," Daniels said. "There is a possibility we could look to improve our defense, bullpen or offense instead." Texas is getting to the point where its needs to hear from Braunecker if Lee wants to return to Arlington or is going to sign elsewhere. "They've been in the process of gathering information and sharing it with other clubs interested," Daniels said. "As far as it relates to other clubs, we'd like to have an answer sooner than later. We're getting to the point where we've got things lined up and are looking at other ways to improve the club. Some things are more impacted by it, but not everything. "They understand what's going on. We're fortunate we haven't made any tough decisions, but things are moving along and we're getting to the point where we have to make decisions." The Rangers have maintained interest in Royals pitcher Zack Greinke, who is signed for two more years for a total of $27 million. But the two sides are not close to a deal as the Royals want Minor League shortstop Jurickson Profar, outfielder Engel Beltre and either pitcher Martin Perez or Tanner Scheppers. Texas is particularly reluctant to trade Perez, its top young Minor League pitching prospect. Crawford may be the top position player left on the free-agent market. The Rangers had interest in Paul Konerko, but he signed a three-year deal worth $37.5 million with the White Sox on Wednesday. Crawford, 29, is from the Houston area and hit .307 with 110 runs scored, 30 doubles, 13 triples, 19 home runs and 90 RBI for the Rays this season. Crawford could also be expensive if he is looking for anything close to the seven-year, $126 million contract that Jayson Werth received from the Nationals at the beginning of the Winter Meetings. The Rangers still need to find a designated hitter and are working hard trying to re-sign Vladimir Guerrero. There are signs that Guerrero could drop his demand for a multiyear contract and go back to Texas on a one-year deal. The Rangers met with his agents on Tuesday and will again. "I couldn't tell you the exact timetable," Daniels said. "Last year, he made his decision in January. He's thoughtful and deliberate and involves other people in his family in the decision. I couldn't say when it will happen." The Rangers have looked at other options. Magglio Ordonez is a possibility. So too are left-handed hitters Jim Thome and Hideki Matsui.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.