Texas hold 'em: Ryan, Rangers waiting on Lee

Texas hold 'em: Ryan, Rangers waiting on Lee

ARLINGTON -- Rangers president Nolan Ryan -- Hall of Famer, no-hit king and baseball's all-time strikeout leader -- is now just like everybody else.

Ryan is sitting around this weekend waiting for Cliff Lee to make a decision on where he will pitch next year. Ryan said on Saturday that the Rangers have not heard anything from Lee or his agent Darek Braunecker since the club's negotiating team presented its latest offers Thursday evening in Little Rock, Ark.

"In my opinion, they are probably weighing all their options and aren't able to come to an easy decision," Ryan said late Saturday afternoon. "I don't know how you would read that."

The Rangers and the Yankees are both waiting to make a decision. The Yankees made a seven-year offer to Braunecker on Wednesday before the end of the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The Rangers responded by sending assistant general manager Thad Levine, CEO Chuck Greenberg and co-owner Ray Davis to Arkansas on Thursday to meet with Braunecker, Lee and his wife Kristen. The Rangers team presented a menu of offers for Lee to consider and now wait for a response. There was no communication from Lee's side on Friday and club officials indicated on Saturday that they have "no idea" when the decision will come down.

"One of the things that's good is you don't hear any reports coming out of New York about them making any additional offers," Ryan said. "If you hear that the Yankees had gone in and made another offer, then I would be concerned."

Of course, the Yankees could have done just that without anything being leaked to the media.

"That's always a possibility," Ryan said. "They may have done it and didn't want it to get out. I don't know what to make of all of it."

Rangers manager Ron Washington said his gut feeling tells him that Lee is coming back to Texas. But, like Ryan, he hasn't heard anything, either.

"I'm biased and I want him back," Washington said by phone on Saturday evening after being inducted into the Black Texas Sports Hall of Fame. "My gut feeling is he'll be here. Ultimately, the decision is Cliff's to make -- but my gut feeling is he'll be back in Texas."

Lee was 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA with the Mariners and the Rangers this past season. He was acquired from the Mariners on July 9 and was 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 15 starts for the Rangers. He beat the Rays twice in the American League Division Series and the Yankees once in the AL Championship Series, allowing the Rangers to advance to the World Series.

Lee lost twice to the Giants as the Rangers went down in five games in the World Series. But he is still 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 10 career starts in the postseason, which is a big reason why he will command an annual average salary of well over $20 million per season.

Washington said he hasn't talked with Lee since the negotiations heated up and is waiting like everybody else.

"I understand he needs time to make the proper decision," Washington said. "Whatever time he needs, we'll give him. When he decides, he'll decide. He has all the information he needs."

Messages left with Braunecker have not been returned. But the Rangers apparently are in the dark as much as anybody.

"If they are really wrestling with it, they'll probably take the weekend and come to a decision on Monday," Ryan said. "I've run all my traps and don't know anything, so we'll just wait and see."

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.