The Yankees wasted little time in their pursuit of Cliff Lee.
New York called the pitcher’s agent Sunday on the first day of the free-agent negotiating period to say they will be back in touch with an offer for the top pitcher on the market, a baseball official familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the team didn’t announce the contact with agent Darek Braunecker.
Texas hopes to re-sign the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner, who led the Rangers to their first World Series after he was acquired from Seattle in July. The Yankees have made signing Lee the top priority among free agents, in addition to re-signing their own players.
Lee, a 32-year-old left-hander, was a combined 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA for the Mariners and Rangers, striking out 185 and walking 18 in 212 1-3 innings. He was 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight career postseason starts before losing to San Francisco in Games 1 and 5 of the World Series.
New York also hopes to re-sign shortstop Derek Jeter, closer Mariano Rivera and pitcher Andy Pettitte, who hasn’t decided whether to play next season or retire.
In the first deal among the 166 players who became free agents after the World Series, shortstop Jhonny Peralta and the Detroit Tigers agreed to an $11.25 million, two-year contract. He gets $5.25 million next year and $5.5 million in 2012, and the Tigers have a $6 million team option for 2013 with a $500,000 buyout.
Detroit declined his $7.25 million option Tuesday, opting to pay a $250,000 buyout, but Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said then the team was optimistic about reaching a new agreement.
Acquired from Cleveland in July, Peralta was shifted from third base to shortstop by Detroit and hit .253 with eight home runs in 57 games with the Tigers.
ESPN Deportes reported earlier that the sides were approaching a deal.
Other free agents include outfielders Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth and Magglio Ordonez; first basemen Carlos Pena and Paul Konerko; catcher Victor Martinez; designated hitter Hideki Matsui and closer Rafael Soriano.