In an unlikely chain of events Tuesday, the New York Yankees finally secured a contract with 32-year-old pitching ace Cliff Lee that exceeded the team's previous offer, made five minutes earlier, by twelve years and $320 million.
At the outset of the MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL on Monday, Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, had received separate offers from only two franchises: the Texas Rangers and the Yankees, for four and five years respectively. But on Tuesday, moments after receiving a Yankees follow-up offer for an additional year, Braunecker conceded to being "blown away" by yet another Yankees offer that will put his coveted client in pinstripes through his fiftieth birthday -- and perhaps beyond.
Said a still thunderstruck Braunecker, "The second I got the text from Cashman (Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman) for the seven-year deal, I thought to myself, Um, yes please! But by the time I picked up my office phone to call Brian and Hal (Yankees co-owner Hal Steinbrenner), they'd already texted me with an eighteen-year counteroffer."
Responding via text-message from a deer hunting trip near his home in rural Arkansas, Lee remained cautiously optimistic about the offer's veracity. "hly crap, r u seeryus? This bettr not be unother 1 of dem dang praktul jokes brody u tule!!! Ra8zrbaaaaakcks!!!1!"
Lee, an avid outdoorsman whose favorite activities include crossbow deer hunting, fly fishing, and bear trapping, later responded to press inquiries about his unorthodox choice of leisure activities from his smoke house via cell phone.
"Basically, here's the deal," said Lee, "Anything on this green earth that has a heartbeat and ain't in the image of Christ almighty, I'm puttin' buckshots in. Oh. And let's go Yankees!"
When asked if he thought Lee could sustain his current form over the length of the contract, Braunecker said, "Well, let's see: He's a 32-year-old who's had a grand total of four really good years in his entire career, a history of back issues, and a fastball that has been described by some scouts as slower than The English Patient. With that said, I challenge anyone to quantify his intangibles," which, Braunecker said, include Quaker-like stoicism, a sporadic lisp, and a "second to none" collection of medieval weaponry and penitence devices.
"Um, did someone just order up some instant clubhouse chemistry?" chimed Braunecker.
The new contract, which calls for the coveted hurler to earn more than $460 million over eighteen seasons, with a $30 million player option for a possible nineteenth, will effectively make Lee the highest paid pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball.
Although the Yankees have earned a dubious reputation for offering what some critics perceive as egregiously exorbitant contracts to free agents, team officials view Lee's acquisition as essential to a franchise whose starting pitching has often foundered despite an annual payroll that annually exceeds $200 million.
"I'm sure we're going to catch a lot of flak for this one," said Cashman, who is reportedly also set to offer ageless hurler Jamie Moyer a seven-year $85 million deal that will have the 24-year veteran lefty pitching in the Bronx well into his mid-fifties. "But my credo is, when you know that you really want something, you've gotta' just go for it. Unless, you know, you're the Pirates."
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