The deal is not done yet, but to my knowledge — and the knowledge of any number of New York people I asked this morning — Joel Sherman has never really whiffed with one of these kinds of reports. It’s never 100% safe to call a deal done before it actually is, but the odds are better on this one than you usually see, given the reporter in question.
So, if it does happen today, what do the Yankees do about the fact that Cliff Lee is scheduled to start tonight? Would they dare keep him on schedule and have him go against the Mariners in their own park, mere hours after the deal? Kind of awkward, ain’t it?
Sherman says no. His sources are telling him that the Yankees and Mariners “may have a gentleman’s agreement” to not have him start at all this series so as not to embarrass the Mariners in their own park. It’s not clear, though, if, in the event dickering over the deal goes past start time of tonight’s game, whether the Mariners would start Lee against the guys who could be his teammates at any moment.
If Lee does start, would a bad start cause people to freak out and launch conspiracy theories that the fix was in? If he doesn’t make the start, would it cause people — mostly people in Boston and Tampa — to freak out about the Mariners basically giving the Yankees a night off? And heck, if he is traded to the Yankees before tonight’s game and he doesn’t start all weekend, what happens if the Yankees get beat three times and end up losing the division by a game or two? I imagine then that the Yankees fans would freak.
In the words of the immortal Johnny Caspar, it’s an interesting ettickal dilemma.