Is Nolan Ryan backing down from a Yankee gunfight?

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We have a good idea of what the Yankees have offered to free agent Cliff Lee — six years and $140 million, at least initially — but what about the Rangers?

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News spoke with club president Nolan Ryan on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings, and Ryan told him that the Rangers are asking Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, to “tell them what it would take to sign” the ace lefty.

Odd, right?  Most front offices would simply make a solid counter-offer and hope for the best.

It sounds like Ryan is wary of getting into a bidding war with the Yankees, however unavoidable it may be.  That, or the Rangers are so confident in their ability to sign the left-hander that they are offering a proverbial blank check.  We’re thinking it’s the former.

The Yankees seem really serious about wanting Lee.  So much so that they haven’t made significant contact with any other free agent this winter.  When they fall in love with a player, and are given an opportunity to sign that player, it’s not often that it falls flat.

Oh, and you know they’re going to want to steal the spotlight from the Red Sox, who just made Carl Crawford the highest-paid outfielder in major league history.

Eyes are upon you, Texas.

Nolan and his partner Chuck Greenberg won the ownership rights to the Rangers in August after bidding $593 million and besting Mark Cuban.  Can they now go to seven years and $163 million for Lee?  If Crawford can get a seven-year, $142 million pact from Boston, $160-plus million may be the going rate for baseball’s best strike-thrower.

Nationals award World Series shares to scouts and minor league personnel

Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports some good news: the Nationals have chosen to include scouts and minor league personnel as part of the group receiving World Series shares for the 2019 season. Manager Dave Martinez said it’s the first time he’s heard of such a thing happening.

The full postseason shares were announced last month. The Nationals players’ pool was in excess of $29 million. Obviously, adding such a large group of people reduces the average share for everyone else, but it is a significant bonus for the scouts and minor league personnel. We have noted many times here that an unnecessarily high percentage of minor leaguers — as well as many ancillary workers for minor league teams — don’t make a living wage. This bonus could mean someone is able to make rent, buy groceries, or buy their kids holiday gifts.

Really classy move on the Nationals’ part. Hopefully it becomes standard practice. Or, better yet, hopefully it becomes standard practice to simply pay minor leaguers and associated staff a fair wage.