According to both Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Texas Rangers are the favorites to land ace lefty Cliff Lee.â†µ
The report goes on to say:â†µ
One rival general manager believes the Rangers have become the favorite to land Cliff Lee.â†µ
In order to do that, they will likely need to part with Justin Smoak, currently their everyday first baseman. And sources say the Rangersâ€™ reluctance to include Smoak in an offer for Lee is one of the biggest remaining barriers in their talks with the Mariners.â†µ
Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik is said to covet Smoak, a switch hitter who is well suited for the Marinersâ€™ home ballpark.â†µ
The Rangersâ€™ ongoing sale â€” through a bankruptcy process â€” is a significant element in the trade dialogue, sources say. Lee has roughly $4 million left on his contract for this season, which is almost certainly too rich for the Rangers to afford right now. The Mariners can pay the remainder of Leeâ€™s salary to facilitate a deal, but they will ask for better players as a result. Smoak is likely to be one of them.â†µ
If the Rangers do indeed trade Justin Smoak to acquire Lee, that could be a vote of organization confidence for Chris Davis, who has posted a .961 OPS in AAA since his demotion earlier this year.â†µ
Lee will almost certainly be a Type A free agent at the end of the year, so if Texas does acquire him and are unable to sign him to an extension, they would receive two compensation draft choices in next year’s draft.