First and foremost, let me say that when asked for a prediction where Cliff Lee will end up, I say the Yankees. They are the best bet to offer the most money.
Still, here is something to consider: A person who has known Lee for a long-time said that Lee's decision will simply come down to money. He will take the most he can get, plain and simple. This is not that unusual.
But when I said to this person, if the Yankees offer $1 million less than the Nationals, he would still go to Washington? The person said he thought yes, he would go to the Nats.
So when these things are going on, these big money sweepstakes, which a potential franchise-changer out there, the wild card entry has to be considered as a major stalking horse.
At this time a decade ago, I doubt anyone had the Texas Rangers winning the Alex Rodriguez Sweepstakes. A-Rod was about taking the most money and one crazy owner came along and just blew the field out of the water.
I'm not saying that will happen here, but the Cubs have a new owner, the Rangers have new owners and there might be a team out there that we are not even thinking about. Maybe it is the Nationals, who go for it and offer Lee the CC contract (seven years and $161 million).
Ultimately, I don't think the Yankees will go that far. I think they will likely want to start at four years and eventually go to five. The goal for Lee's agent, Dareck Braunecker, is get the Yankees to six years.
But here is the thing, if the Yankees stay disciplined, then Lee may not be in the Bronx. The wild card is out there; especially if the goal is to simply go to the highest bidder.