Yankees on the verge of trading for Cliff Lee?

New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman stands for the National Anthem during the Yankees World Series victory celebration on the steps of City Hall in New York on November 6, 2009. UPI/Michael Appleton/Pool Photo via Newscom

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees are on the brink of trading for Mariners’ ace Cliff Lee.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik have been in constant contact over the last week, but it was only last night that the Seattle GM told Yankee officials he wanted to move quickly, possibly before the All-Star break.

The Yanks were not assured of obtaining Lee since other clubs such as the Mets, Twins and Rangers were in talks. But the Yanks were definitely making the strongest move last night, coming from seeming disinterest into the clear front-runner and last night it seemed they were all but certain to obtain the 31-year-old lefty.

In an odd twist, Lee is scheduled to pitch against the Yankees tonight in Seattle. Lee is 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA and an amazing 89 strikeouts to just six walks. He beat the Yankees twice in the World Series last year, the only two games the Yankees lost in the Fall Classic.

This would be a surprising but predictable outcome. For the past month, the Rangers, Mets and Twins were the clubs that were centered on trading for Lee. But of course, seemingly out of nowhere, Brian Cashman swoops in and nabs another stud for his all-star roster. (Lee, Sabathia, Pettitte, Burnett and Vazquez? Dear, Barbara…)

If this deal goes down, the collective heads of Yankee haters are going to explode. “Typical Yankees” they’ll say. But keep in mind that this would be a trade; the Mariners can deal with whichever team they want and if they decide that it’s the Yankees, then you can’t blame Cashman for wanting to make a deal. Yes, the Bombers have a sizeable advantage when it comes to signing and retaining free agents. But when it comes to trades they have as much to lose as anyone seeing as how they’re giving up more than money in a deal. It’s up to Zduriencik to get fair compensation for Lee and if he were smart, he’d play all of the teams against each other in order to get the best deal possible. (Don’t rule out the possibility that he’s using Cashman and the Yankees to get more out of the Rangers or Mets either.)

This isn’t a done deal and the Rangers (who were reportedly the front-runners for Lee just yesterday) could still make a play. But history tells us that if Cashman and the Yankees are involved, they’ll probably get their man.

Typical Yankees.

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