At 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, free agency began for Major League Baseball.

The Yankees wasted little time in planning out whom they are making their main target for the off-season.

Now, most know the Yankees will try and likely get Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera back for 2011. That will be the easy part of their winter.

But aside from Jeter and Rivera, the Yankees will be putting their main focus onto Cliff Lee, the biggest prize on the free agent market.

The Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman have already contacted Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker about preparing a potential offer for the left-hander.

Lee is no stranger to New York, as he beat the Yankees in Game 3 of the 2010 ALCS as a member of the Rangers.

Last year in the World Series, Lee won Games 1 and 5 of the World Series when he was a member of the Phillies.

The Yankees will not be the only suitors for Lee’s services. The Rangers, Angels, Nationals and Cubs are all expected to try to persuade Lee to pitch for them as well.

The Rangers—Lee’s 2010 second-half team—are factored to be the toughest competition for the Yankees, considering Lee lives in Arkansas and Texas is closer to his family.

The Yankees know this, which is why they will be pulling out all the stops for Lee.

Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg has said he will do what it takes to keep Lee, but he may be biting off more than he can chew if he wants to get into a bidding war with New York.

The Yankees are the highest grossing team in all of baseball, and if they want to add more payroll, they have the luxury to do so.

The luxury tax doesn’t bother them either, as they have been paying it the last several years.

If the Yankees want to add Lee by offering him more money, they will do it; they always go the extra mile to get the players they want.

Back in 2008, when they were trying to sign CC Sabathia, they upped their initial offer of six years and $140 million to seven years and $161 million.

The Yankees knew they needed Sabathia, and they knew they had to offer something extra to convince him not to pitch on the west coast near his California home. By adding more to their offer, they got Sabathia to relocate his family to New York.

The Yankees will be looking to do the same thing now with Lee and his family. So if the Rangers offer a major contract, expect the Yankees to trump them, whether it be in years or dollars.

Speaking of Sabathia, he is one of Lee’s closest friends from their playing days in Cleveland, and will be playing the role of recruiter for Lee and his family to come to New York.

Sabathia won a championship in his first year with the Yankees, while Lee has lost in consecutive World Series. A championship in New York with the Yankees, to go along with a massive contract, may be enticing enough for Lee to choose them instead of Texas.

From the Yankees’ point of view, Andy Pettitte’s unknown future with the team may be even more incentive to go after Lee.

Since 2007, the Yankees have gone year to year with Pettitte, who is mulling retirement. Pettitte wanted to come back to the Yankees to win one more championship, which he last achieved in 2009. At 38, Pettitte may want to finally call it a career and spend time with his wife and four kids.

His possible retirement, along with A.J. Burnett’s inconsistency, will only further increase the Yankees’ desire and need to get Lee to New York.

Right now, we are in the early stages of free agency and the negotiating process. As the weeks go on, we’ll hear more stories and rumors of Lee and his whereabouts for 2011 and beyond.

But for right now, we all know the Yankees’ main plan for this winter; it just all depends on how much money and how many years it will take to convince Cliff Lee to come to New York.

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