MLB Facts and Rumors first busted out the tag prior to the trade deadline as Lee eventually was dealt to the Rangers. That tag was resurrected once Lee hit free agency and has been used so much that only Lee himself (who paces the field by far), Stephen Strasburg, Adam Dunn, Derek Jeter, Carl Crawford and Roy Oswalt are the only players to beat out the Cliff Lee Watch tag for most articles written about it. Heck, Lee himself beats out the Padres, Tigers, Blue Jays, Brewers, Royals, Angels, Astros, Athletics and Indians in total articles written.
That's a lot of ink about Lee. Or rather, a lot of black pixels on your computer screen.
And now it may be ending, as SI.com's Jon Heyman believes that Lee will make a decision early this week, while Rangers president Nolan Ryan figures Monday will be the big day as MLB.com relays .
The Rangers have given Lee a "menu" of options, although none are expected to outdo the Yankees' guarantee of a seven-year deal and presumably a total deal north of $150 million. After Carl Crawford signed with the Red Sox, GM Brian Cashman guaranteed the seventh year in the face of the Rangers hanging tough. However, Cashman has no intention of increasing his offer further.
Now that Lee will have had a full weekend to decide and both teams submitting final bids (although there is apparently a "mystery" third team that could throw a wrench into things), the saga shouldn't drag on much further.
That'll retire the Cliff Lee Watch tag -- well, until he becomes a free agent again in the late part of the decade, anyways.
UPDATE: Looks like the Nats are out of the running for Cliff Lee as MLB.com reports . They were never considered a serious competitor although they did make an offer.
Check out this video of CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler's take on Lee as the Winter Meetings ended:
-- Evan Brunell