State taxes could play a factor in Cliff Lee choosing between Rangers and Yankees

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While speculation swirls about how much Cliff Lee enjoyed his time in Texas and how much his wife disliked her time in New York, an overlooked factor in his free agent decision-making could be state income taxes.

Darren Rovell of CNBC wrote a very interesting article examining the differences in taxes Lee would pay depending on his new home. Texas does not have a state income tax, but it does have something called a “Jock Tax” that would involve Lee paying approximately $2.25 million if he signed a five-year, $120 million contract with the Rangers.

However, if Lee signed the same five-year, $120 million contract with the Yankees and moved to New York he’d pay between $11 million and $15 million in state income taxes depending on exactly where he lived.

In other words, assuming Lee can get in excess of $100 million from either team any offer the Rangers make will be worth about 10 percent more to him than any offer the Yankees make. Whether or not an “extra” $10 million would be enough to sway Lee one way or another is obviously unclear, but it does suggest that the Yankees will have to clearly top the Rangers’ offer to get him. Of course, we probably knew that already.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.