How free-agency dominoes will fall

Updated: December 2, 2010, 12:21 PM ET
By Buster Olney

The first domino in the free-agency line is Cliff Lee, and he will affect all others behind him. Of course, Carl Crawford could take a deal today, but it makes sense for him to wait, and it makes sense for others to wait for Crawford, and so on.

With that in mind, here's how the dominoes could fall in the weeks ahead:

Domino 1: Cliff Lee
The left-hander is entertaining interest from about a half-dozen teams, according to his agent, Darek Braunecker, but it's all but impossible to find any executive who doesn't believe this will come down to a choice between the Yankees and the Rangers -- and we know that the Yankees, with their Wall Street-sized bank account, really, really want Lee. For the Yankees, there is risk in signing a 32-year-old pitcher to a massive contract, but that concern is mitigated by their revenue streams. For the Rangers, a five- or six-year investment in Lee is an enormous risk, because they could be committing anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of their payroll to a pitcher in his early 30s; if Lee gets hurt or his performance suffers, the Rangers' payroll structure would be devastated.

Domino 2a: The Rangers