After months and weeks of speculation, rumors and debates, the Yankees are breaking out their checkbook for the biggest prize on the free agent market.

The Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman officially made their first offer to free agent left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee for a six-year deal and a contract ranging anywhere from $138-150 million dollars.

Since the Baseball Winter Meetings began on Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, the Lee rumors to different teams have been running rampant.

There was a lot of talk after the Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year deal worth $126 million, they were going to offer Lee a potential seven-year deal as well.

Two Washington Post reporters quickly shot down the notion of Lee going to the Nationals, thinking that is nothing more than a dream.

On Wednesday, after the Yankees submitted their offer, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker left the winter meetings to go back to Little Rock, Arkansas to meet with Lee and his family to discuss the offers and options.

There has also been a lot of talk on how many years and dollars the Yankees were willing to go for Lee. Many felt that the Yankees would offer six years, but not go beyond seven, which is the plan for right now.

As of right now, the feeling is that the Rangers will offer Lee a deal of five years and upwards of $20 million per season, but Texas, their general manager Jon Daniels and president Nolan Ryan may be skeptical to give Lee six years. Ryan has said if it came down to dollars, the Rangers would not be able to compete with the Yankees.

In fact, Texas has come up with a “Plan B” in case Lee does not re-sign, which includes either converting closer Neftali Feliz into a starter or trading for Royals ace Zack Greinke.

Many feel that if the Rangers, Angels or Phillies do jump into the bidding for Lee and make a significant and competitive offer, the Yankees could up their offer with another year or more money into the contract that would simply blow away the competition.

As of Wednesday night, according to New York Post’s George King, ESPN’s Andrew Marchand and New York Daily News Mark Feinsand, the deal the Yankees offered to Lee was for six years and about $140 million, which would pay Lee around $23.3 million per season.

Sports Illustrated and WFAN’s Jon Heyman has said there were two mystery teams who offered Lee a seven-year deal, but a lot of people still expect the Yankees to be the front runners in the negotiations.

Now the many, many questions begin to come after this type of story.

If the Rangers did offer Lee five years, will they try to improve their offer for him?

Will any other team try to compete with the Yankees offer for Lee?

If teams like Texas, Philadelphia and Los Angeles decide to get an offer worthy to compete with the Yankees, how much will the Yankees raise their offer for Lee?

How long will it take for Lee to decide?

But the most important question of them all…..

Who will sign Cliff Lee this winter?

Stay tuned.

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