There has been talk and speculation that the New York Yankees and free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford have spoken and that there is interest on the part of the Yankees.

The Yankees were informed by Crawford, however, that he really wants to play in Anaheim, and that he prefers the more laid-back attitude of the West Coast. The California money isn’t bad, either.

The reason why Crawford’s name has come up now might be to drive up the Angels’ price, but the lack of talk here at the meetings over Crawford likely indicates his sole desire to play in California.

Crawford would be making an already decent Los Angeles Angels lineup much better, and adding him along with the return of Kendry Morales gives the Angels a nice middle of Crawford, Torii Hunter and Morales.

The Yankees’ primary concern is Cliff Lee, and I was told that the Yankees do not believe there is any legitimate seven-year offer on the table for Lee—not from the Texas Rangers, not from the Washington Nationals and certainly not yet from the Angels.

It appears like every team is trying to sign its primary focus: the Yankees and Rangers with Lee and the Angels with Crawford. Then each club will worry about the other player later, probably immediately afterward.

Crawford supposedly informed the Yankees that while his desire is to play in Southern California, he would play for the Yankees over the Boston Red Sox if he had to choose between the two.

It’s a small consolation for the Yankees, but at least for now they can concentrate on Lee.

As I said, the Yankees believe there is no seven-year offer, but if push comes to shove, they would be willing to go that seventh year if it meant getting Lee. I have said several times this week I felt the Yankees would do so kicking and screaming. They need Lee very badly.

The Yankees are not worried about reports that Andy Pettitte will retire. Unless they hear those words directly from Pettitte’s mouth, they are assuming Andy is returning for the 2011 season, which will likely be his last.

But while the Yankees feel there is no current seven year offer for Lee, they also believe the Rangers are desperately putting together a big offer. Reports are that Nolan Ryan is pulling together money from other sources to push in Lee’s direction.

The Yankees are worried about Lee going back to Texas more than they are with any other team.

But I still feel the Angels will be players in the Lee sweepstakes, especially if they sign Crawford relatively quickly.

If the Yankees fail to sign Lee, one fallback option is the trade market. Forget about Zack Greinke, as the Yankees are just not interested. But they have indicated interest in a player who is currently being shopped here at the Winter Meetings—Ricky Nolasco of the Florida Marlins.

Nolasco has talent and put up a 14-9 record and 4.51 ERA last year. But the Yankees feel Nolasco is a better pitcher than his 2010 record showed.

Nolasco’s peripherals in 2010 were strong with a 1.9 BB/9 and a K/9 of 8.4. His career rates of 2.1 BB/9 and 8.0 K/9 are similar to his 2010 season, showing tremendous consistency. 

The Yankees would know what they are getting with Nolasco.

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