Lee will take slow approach to free agency

Cliff Lee will be taking a slow approach to free agency.

”We’re just gathering information. That’s always the early

stages of this process,” agent Darek Braunecker said Monday, a day

after the former AL Cy Young Award winner became a free agent.

Lee is being pursued by the New York Yankees and also is wanted

back by the Texas Rangers, who acquired him from Seattle in July.

The 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.

”This one certainly is a little bit unique in that he’s clearly

the best player on the free-agent market and not a lot of other

things are going to impact our position on Cliff,” Braunecker

said.

Lee was with Cleveland from 2002 until he was traded to

Philadelphia in 2009, and is friends with Yankees pitcher CC

Sabathia. Because he’s familiar with most if not all major league

cities, Lee has little need to tour his suitors.

”We’re going to take it on of kind of a team-by-team,

case-by-case basis. I don’t expect Cliff to be flying all over the

country,” Braunecker said. ”We’re really in just the infancy

stages of it all. We don’t really ever handicap the timing of any

of this stuff. We believe that when the right deal presents itself,

we’ll be prepared to act. And when that might be, that’s anybody’s

guess at this point.”

Next week’s general managers’ meetings in Orlando, Fla., will be

used for many clubs and agents to feel each other out. A focal

point of the offseason is the winter meetings from Dec. 6-9 in Lake

Buena Vista, Fla.

Lee tops a free-agent class that includes 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.

Shortstop Jhonny Peralta became the first player to reach a

deal, staying with the Detroit Tigers for 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.

”I feel happy. I want to be with the Tigers,” Peralta said.

”Playing shortstop, for me, is my natural position. I feel really

comfortable.”

Peralta played shortstop for most of his career before becoming

Cleveland’s regular third baseman in 2009. Detroit acquired him in

July, and he played 46 of his 57 games with the Tigers at

shortstop.

Defensively, the Tigers hope Peralta and smooth-fielding Brandon

Inge will complement each other well on the left side of the

infield after playing together toward the end of last season.

”I think they’re a good combination together,” Tigers general

manager Dave Dombrowski said. ”We liked the way it looked.”

AP Sports Writer Noah Trister in Detroit contributed to this

report.