Would Cliff Lee’s salary be “off the books” in Texas?

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Buster Olney raises an interesting point in his column today. One I’ve never really heard about or considered: that a team like the Rangers may, in effect, consider Cliff Lee’s salary separate and apart from the rest of the payroll:

I’ve heard of situations where an owner will tell his general manager that he — the owner — will take responsibility for a particular signing. In other words, the owner says, “I’ll pay for this player and in effect, he won’t be part of the budget we give you.”

And Buster notes that the group of Rangers execs who visited Lee in Arkansas yesterday included one of the silent partners, billionaire Ray Davis.

Because there’s no salary cap in baseball, the concept of “off the books” is one of semantics, really, but this is a pretty interesting notion.  If the owners — not just Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, but the money men too — decide that there is a sufficient value to be gained in terms of ticket sales and cache and all of that in signing Lee, the usual budget numbers we ascribe to a team like Texas may be moot. And the potential payroll-killing effects of signing Lee may be as well.

White Sox won’t make bid for Bryce Harper

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The White Sox won’t make a bid for free agent outfielder Bryce Harper, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports. Believed to be the favorites to land shortstop Manny Machado in free agency, the White Sox watched him ink a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres. The club is apparently content with its roster otherwise.

Harper would certainly be an upgrade in the outfield, which currently features Adam Engel, Nicky Delmonico, and Jon Jay. It will soon feature prospects Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert.

Last season, Harper hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 hom eruns, 100 RBI, 103 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances. He led all of baseball, drawing 130 walks. Harper is also a six-time All-Star who won the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2015 NL Most Valuable Player Award.

The Phillies are still believed to be the favorites to sign Harper and the club is confident it will land him, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.