In this year’s rather modest free agent market, two names stick out; Carl Crawford of the Rays, and Cliff Lee of the Rangers. Lee in particular is the gem of the starting pitcher class, a one-time Cy Young winner, and a key piece of two straight World Series appearances.

Only three years ago, Lee was a hot and cold pitcher, who had some great years, but also had bad years. Since then, he has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the game, complete with multiple complete games and very few walks. Likewise, it took Roy Halladay a few years to get going, but now he’s perhaps the best pitcher in the league.

Cliff Lee’s contract is expected to be very expensive for either the Yankees or the Rangers over the next few years. Is it justified giving Lee perhaps 20 million a year, given how long it took him to get going, or given his struggles in Texas? Absolutely. Here’s why:

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