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Cliff Lee, Taxes, and Texas vs. New York

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Darren Rovell has a great piece of research up at CNBC right now. The subject is Cliff Lee and the difference financially between living and working in New York and Texas.

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You can check the link for the nitty gritty, but here's this final conclusion: if the Yankees end up offering $120 million, the Rangers would only have to pony up $111.5 million to match the same value. That doesn't factor in cost of living beyond taxes, it doesn't factor in being closer to his home in Arkansas, it doesn't factor in sticking with the squad he just went to the World Series with, and it doesn't factor in not playing in the stadium that did its best to alienate his family.

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FanGraphs' Contract Crowd Sourcing project for Cliff Lee ended up actually expecting his contract to be about five years for just under $105 million. That's most likely fans expecting Lee to sign somewhere besides New York, like Texas, but it's obviously even less than Rovell's 111.5 (used just for example).

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There is no question the Yankees will likely offer Lee the most money of anyone. What's being missed, however, is that all contracts are not created equal. A contract in New York has to be quite a bit larger than a contract in Texas to keep up. Lee's agents and the teams know this, but I think some fans are looking past it. The Rangers don't have to match the Yankees, they just have to get close enough to cover the differences between playing in the two locations. With new ownership, a new TV contract on the way, and most likely an energized fan base ready to spend more money than they have in the past, there is little doubt in my mind the Rangers can spend enough to match the Yankees' offer in relative dollars.

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My concern is not whether or not they can offer enough to retain Lee, it's whether or not they'll spend too much. Lee is awesome and we all love him for good reason, but he's also getting up there in years. He may be a better bet to age well than your standard pitcher, but there's still a good chance spending what it takes to keep him could end up being a bit of a ball and chain in a few years.

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We'll see. Just don't buy in to the statement that the highest total dollar amount will necessarily land Phifer.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.