Courtesy of Yankees ‘n More

Everybody knows the New York Yankees have their hearts set on adding lefty ace Cliff Lee this offseason, perhaps as early as the winter meetings next week. Of late, however, there has been a lot of talk about the interest being shown by the Bronx Bombers in free agent outfielder Carl Crawford.

Much of that talk has centered around the legitimacy of New York’s interest. Specifically, does New York really want to sign him, or are they just driving up the price for Boston—assumed to be one of the teams most interested in Crawford— while also paying that team back for their interest shown in Mariano Rivera?

We might have the answer to that question. The Boston Red Sox are on the verge of completing a trade that would bring them first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Part of that deal will be a massive contract extension, which likely takes Boston all but out of the bidding for Crawford.

The Yankees, however, appear to remain, which could be the strongest sign yet of their desire to add the speedy outfielder. And New York might have found a clever way to add both Cliff Lee AND Carl Crawford while sticking to their word on “holding the payroll to about the same level as 2010.”

Deferred money. New deals for both Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, which are all but done, BOTH include deferred money, and both are thought to be worth in the neighborhood of $15 million per year. We don’t know how much of the money is deferred, but $5 million per year on each doesn’t seem like a stretch.

But let’s be conservative. Let’s say the new deal for Jeter, not counting deferred money, pays him $15 million this year and the Rivera deal, after deferred money, pays the closer $12 million. $27 million this year for those two players would represent a decrease of $10.5 million from what New York paid those players in 2010.

If you then trade either Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher—something that will absolutely happen if the Yankees sign Crawford, and we’re betting on Swisher—you EASILY have the money to sign Crawford without touching the money you’ve set aside for Lee.

All of the talk about the deferred money in the Jeter and Rivera contracts has dealt with saving the Yankees money on the luxury tax. We don’t believe it’s about that at all. We believe it’s about the Yankees getting the pitcher they love AND the outfielder for whom they have held a deep and longstanding infatuation.

Read more MLB news on