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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 12/ 7/2010

Take a deep breath on Cliff Lee to the Nationals

By Adam Kilgore

There has been some serious buzz this morning about the Nationals throwing an enormous contract at Cliff Lee, culminating with a report by the New York Daily News that the Nationals will offer a seven-year contract that the New York Yankees would not match.

Well, even with the Nationals ready spend, spend, spend, don't get too excited about Lee in Washington.

"Not happening," one Nationals source said.

"Zero chance," said another.

Yesterday, Darek Braunecker, Lee's agent, told the Post the Nationals were "not eliminated by any means" from signing Lee, and General Manager Mike Rizzo and Braunecker had a face-to-face meeting here. But that's the extent of the communication. Unless things change drastically -- and with the Nationals being super-aggressive, I wouldn't rule anything totally out -- the Nationals will not offer Lee a seven-year deal.

This doesn't mean they definitely won't sign him; it just means it won't be for a Werthian seven years.

By Adam Kilgore  | December 7, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
 
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Comments

It is not a zero chance. 7 years $168M? If no other club in the running offers that 7th year, I have to think that Lee very seriously considers taking that deal. The Nats have to think that replacement cost for an Ace for the next 5 years or so is something north of $20M per, so the risk at the end game of the deal is there in a big way but when you stretch it out, they'd likely get value for the guy even at his $24M-ish per year deal.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 7, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Way to be a buzz kill Kilgore.

Posted by: Cartaldo | December 7, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

There's hope. They didn't say less than zero.

Posted by: mojo6 | December 7, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Cracking me up...we went from the Lerners are cheap to "they are too willing to spend money"

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 7, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

BTW, I keep waiting for a Nationals / Blue Jays deal. The BJ's have several former Nats execs familiar witht he Nats farm system and they have a surplus of talent at a number of key positions.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 7, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

It's always a zero chance until the player agrees to the deal.

Posted by: 4U2Know | December 7, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Not Werth it for Lee?

Adam - can you do a post on the fit between the Red Sox and the Nats? You reported on the Willngham rumors, but there are other fits, too. With your knowledge of both teams and sources on both sides, what pieces could move? Bullpen help, MLB catching depth, power corner OF prospects towards Boston, SP prospects, blocked players like Anderson, contracts like Scutaro's or Dice-K to backfill for Desmond / Espinosa going elsewhere or to add veteran starting depth, etc . . .

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 7, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Whether we get Lee or not, the other east coast big spenders are suddenly asking, "Hey, who let those guys in here?"

Kinda like Glenn Close's character in "Fatal Attraction": "I'm not going to be IGNORED!!!"

Cue up the bunny rabbit and the pot of boiling water.

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 7, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

With all due respect to Our Man Kilgore, if he had been asked on Saturday to report on the chances of Werth coming to DC, wouldn't he have come back with "Not happening" and
"Zero chance?"

Also, props to jca-CrystalCity and natsbiscuits: very smart posts on possible trades. Well done.

Posted by: baltova1 | December 7, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Kilgore, your a bigger buzz kill then Buzz Killington.

Posted by: Kweb8876 | December 7, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

If we're going to spend Yankee money might as well operate like them too. The Yankees are always out of the running for a free agent (e.g. Teixeira) right up to the second that they get him for a bazillion dollars. They are the masters of zero chance. The Nats, however, probably mean it.

Posted by: mojo6 | December 7, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Well. Count me among the flabbergasted. Last week when they let Dunn walk, I threw my ST renewal package in the trash "where it belongs." Fortunately, I threw it in the recycle bin trash rather than the garbage bag. I have now pulled it out of the recycle bin, based on the recent moves and what appears to be a sea change in Uncle Teddy's willingness to spend. I am now back amongst the undecideds--if Werth isn't a stand-alone signing, I'm back in. It need not take Lee, an acknowledged long shot. Like others, I suspect this is Tex redux and he ends up in pinstripes. But there are other pieces that would demonstrate that the Nats are serious about becoming a MLB team, which is all I ever wanted for Christmas!

Posted by: NatsFly | December 7, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Kilgore, your a bigger buzz kill then Buzz Killington.

Posted by: Kweb8876 | December 7, 2010 11:31 AM

Now, who here likes a good story about a bridge?

Posted by: Kev29 | December 7, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Natsbiscuits: Can you enlighten us on some of the Jays surpluses and shortfalls? There seems to be about the same coverage from north of the border by the national media is there is regarding the Nations Capital!

Posted by: Section314 | December 7, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

AK just tweeted that there's nothing to rumors of Lee and the Nats. More killing of the buzz.

Posted by: mojo6 | December 7, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

AK just tweeted that there's nothing to rumors of Lee and the Nats. More killing of the buzz.

Posted by: mojo6 | December 7, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

NatsFly, you do know they won't accept a renewal package that's been in the trash, don't you? That's like George Costanza getting caught by his girlfriend's mother fishing that half-eaten eclair off the top of the garbage bin. Disgusting. You'll be paying single game price, more for premium games. Enjoy.

Posted by: FeelWood | December 7, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I would rather have Pavano for three years with Webb for two then Lee for seven. If Werth's contract will look horrible after 5 years think how bad Lee's will look.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 7, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Deserving of a double post....

Posted by: mojo6 | December 7, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

We can still dream, can't we?
Sign LaRoche, and use Willingham as part of a deal for Greinke. If we're going to go nuts on another contract, let's make it for Crawford instead of Lee.
BTW, with the Werth deal the Nats are, I believe, still in the bottom half of team payrolls.

Posted by: InTheCheapSeats | December 7, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

AK just tweeted that there's nothing to rumors of Lee and the Nats. More killing of the buzz.

Posted by: mojo6
============================================
If the way Werth's signing happened is any indicator, then the fact that there's any buzz at all is an indicator that there's nothing happening. Rizzo seems to like to keep things super hush-hush (note to State Department: Consider having Rizzo teach diplomats how to keep their cables out of Julian Assange's filthy hands); if there was really something brewing, the other teams wouldn't know about it until they woke up with their collective backs in a ditch.

OTOH, I suspect that neither Lee nor his agent can go to the men's room these days without everyone knowing what time it happened, how long he was there, and what he did in there. Maybe this is something even Rizzo can't keep secret.

In other words, this is about as much fun as you can have in the hot stove league without shelling out big money for bourbon and Maalox.

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 7, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"BTW, with the Werth deal the Nats are, I believe, still in the bottom half of team payrolls."

Easily. Dunn leaving and Werth signing was a net $6M increase. Still near the bottom. So they definitely have room, and apparently are planning on taking on more payroll.

Posted by: Sunderland | December 7, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey FeelWood, it was just the recycle bin! No coffee grounds, honest!

And I haven't sent it in, yet...

Posted by: NatsFly | December 7, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

If history has taught us anything it should be that Kilgore has no idea what he is talking about. Rizzo has kept every move that he has made to himself and a very small group within his circle. No one who is commenting has the slightest idea what's going on between the Nats and Lee. Anything said now is totally unsupported speculation.

Posted by: wellscats | December 7, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

NatsFly at this point I think they would take the renewal if it was written on garbage

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 7, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

They could easily do Lee plus Garza (if a trade can be worked out). That would pretty much complete the pitching rotation.

Then make a run at Crawford if he's still available. Or a better solution? Trade for a top blocked first base prospect who bats left. With Harper, Burgess, Bloxom, and even the now "too old" Tim Pahuta they have some left handed bats that could make their way to the outfield.

Posted by: periculum | December 7, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Lars Anderson, Logan Morrison, Eric Hosmer and Yonder Alonso are all left handed hitting first basemen who may be blocked.

Posted by: periculum | December 7, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Albert Haynesworth can play 1B...

Posted by: baltova1 | December 7, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Does Marrero have any future at all with the Nats? It doesn't look like he's in their long term or short term plans.

Posted by: Jurgensen9 | December 7, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

From what I've read, Marerro is a slugger who plays first base with a hatchet.

But he can be had for a lot less than $56 million.

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 7, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Why not go 7 on Lee if we went 7 on Werth? Rizzo said it himself, he would be very happy if Werth only had 5 AS-Level seasons, I can almost assure you Lee would do that. Plus, he is not a power arm, he will still be able to hit spots and throw strikes, despite losing a few MPH off his stuff. He could very easily be a guy who is part of the rotation for the next 7.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | December 7, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Marrero is still very young (23, I think). Realistically, not everyone is ML ready at 19. He seems to be able to hit, but defense is his problem. Maybe we could merge him with Maxwell???

Haynesworth isn't all that much bigger than Prince Fielder, so maybe a deal can be worked out with Snyder. As fast as he moves, we might be able to simply have Espinosa take the bounces off his stomach.

OTOH, personally I would like to see Rizzo go...to work for the Dept. of State. I love baseball. I love the Nats. There are some things more important, like national secrets.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | December 7, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

It's been darn near two days since we signed an all-star calibre player. I was hoping this would be like hanukkah, a freshly wrapped player every day for 8 glorious days and nights. :-(

Posted by: Sunderland | December 7, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

OTOH, personally I would like to see Rizzo go...to work for the Dept. of State. I love baseball. I love the Nats. There are some things more important, like national secrets.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | December 7, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

-------

I tend to believe baseball trumps even national security.

Posted by: egoodman8 | December 7, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I think that Rizzo may have burned a lot of the oil in his lamp on Werth. But who knows. Rizzo's mind is likely spinning dreidel-like at this very moment!

Posted by: dfh21 | December 7, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Funny, Rizzo doesn't LOOK Jewish...

:-)

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 7, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

What a coup that would be. I would think plenty of people would come out to see Cliff pitch, especially while Strasburg is still out. And he would give us a solid arm.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | December 7, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Sports Illustrated is reporting a seven year deal from a team that's not the Nats. Is it possible that the reports of the Nats making a seven year offer came from someone conflating this with Lee's agent saying the Nats are in the race?

Posted by: 202character | December 7, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Why not go 7 on Lee if we went 7 on Werth? Rizzo said it himself, he would be very happy if Werth only had 5 AS-Level seasons, I can almost assure you Lee would do that. Plus, he is not a power arm, he will still be able to hit spots and throw strikes, despite losing a few MPH off his stuff. He could very easily be a guy who is part of the rotation for the next 7.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq

This answers your question better then I could ever try. A scary read for Lee suitors.

http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/news/story?id=5787586

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 7, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Why not go 7 on Lee if we went 7 on Werth? Rizzo said it himself, he would be very happy if Werth only had 5 AS-Level seasons, I can almost assure you Lee would do that. Plus, he is not a power arm, he will still be able to hit spots and throw strikes, despite losing a few MPH off his stuff. He could very easily be a guy who is part of the rotation for the next 7.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq

This answers your question better then I could ever try. A scary read for Lee suitors.

"http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/news/story?id=5787586"

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 7, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

"Lars Anderson, Logan Morrison, Eric Hosmer and Yonder Alonso are all left handed hitting first basemen who may be blocked."

A little prune juice first thing in the morning should clear that right up.

Posted by: FeelWood | December 7, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

FeelWood -- if those guys go on the juice it could really lead to some runs.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 7, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

>Not happening," one Nationals source said.

"Zero chance," said another


Welcome to Phase 2. Suck on it and like it Pants!!

Posted by: Brue | December 7, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

As I keep saying. Let the man and his brain trust do their job. They are getting paid a lot of money to make behind the scenes and make good baseball decisions specific to this former ruin, this former "folly" of the MLB. Wreak havoc boys!

Posted by: periculum | December 7, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Well played, BobL.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 7, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The headline is misleading and stupid - what they meant was zero chance of seven years...l. Not zero chance of signing him. Someone at WAPO needs to wake up and do their damn job!

Posted by: Capitalist-1 | December 7, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

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