Yankees miss out on Cliff Lee…for now.

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee pitches against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Arlington, Texas July 10, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

When the news sprawled across my computer screen last Friday, I couldn’t help but say aloud, “Right on time, Yankees.” (And yes, I like to talk to myself.)

By the middle of last week, the Rangers had emerged as the favorites to acquire left-hander Cliff Lee from the Mariners. The sticking point in the deal appeared to be whether or not Texas would part with top prospect Justin Smoak, whom Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik coveted.

Either way, it seemed as though the Rangers were way out in front in the race for Lee. That was, of course, until the Yankees got involved.

Reports surfaced early Friday morning that Brian Cashman and the Yanks were on the verge of acquiring Lee. They were prepared to give up their top prospect, Jesus Montero, but the two sides couldn’t agree on whom the second player in the deal would be and the Rangers wound up getting Lee anyway.

But if history is any indication, Lee won’t be in Texas for very long. His contract is up at the end of the year and we all know Cashman does his best work at the negotiating table. (Not that throwing millions of dollars at a player with reckless abandon in attempts to sign him is difficult.)

After being traded three times in under a year, Lee will be looking for a permanent home this winter. There’s no doubt that he’ll have plenty of suitors, but the Yankees consistently offer two things that no club can: Money and a chance to win. They also don’t operate the same way as other teams because they don’t have any financial hurdles to overcome. So depending on what Lee wants (a big signing bonus and a no trade clause perhaps?), the Yankees might be the only team willing to meet all of his demands.

If the thought of the Bombers signing Lee to a huge deal this winter makes you want to hurl in your trash can, then stop reading because it gets worse. If he does eventually wind up in New York, then the Yankees were better off missing out on him now because they would have had to part with Montero and possibly another prospect. If they’re able to sign him in December, all they’ll have to give up his money (which they have no shortage of) and a couple of low draft picks that may not pan out anyway. (The Yankees will also have a better idea of whether or not Andy Pettitte will return.)

For the record, I’m not saying this would be a good thing for baseball – in fact, I’ll go as far as to say that this would be bad for the sport. The balance of power is already in the Yankees’ favor and they don’t need to flex their financial muscles more. But sue me for thinking that Lee to New York is inevitable.

Acquiring Lee now would have given the Yankees their best chance to win another championship, but it’s not like their roster is hurting for talent. They may not have gotten their man this season, but they could very well be better off in the long run assuming they sign him this winter.

Feel free to go wash out that trash can now.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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