Sources: Rangers, Lee to meet Thursday

The Texas Rangers aren’t conceding yet on Cliff Lee.

Rangers officials are traveling to meet with Lee in Arkansas today, and their intent is to increase their contract offer beyond five years, major-league sources told

It is the third such meeting this offseason between club officials and Lee, the prized free-agent left-hander. It came at the Rangers’ request, sources say. And it probably represents the Rangers’ final attempt at convincing Lee to return to Texas rather than sign a more lucrative offer with the New York Yankees.

The Yankees upped their offer to seven years, an apparent response to the rival Boston Red Sox agreeing to a contract with star outfielder Carl Crawford late Wednesday night. And while Los Angeles Angels general manager Tony Reagins said this morning that his team is also involved in the Lee pursuit, many in the game expect Lee to sign with the Yankees or Rangers.

Rangers managing partner Chuck Greenberg and assistant general manager Thad Levine are representing the team at today’s meeting, sources confirmed. Rangers officials have acknowledged — publicly and privately — that they won’t be able to match the Yankees’ financial might. But they maintain hope, however faint, that the allure of playing close to his home will sway Lee.

The offseason marketplace is changing by the day, with stars Jayson Werth, Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford joining new teams this week.

The Angels — the Rangers’ primary rival in the American League West — have been shut out from acquiring top-level talent thus far. The Angels are viewed as the favorite to sign third baseman Adrian Beltre, the best position player remaining on the free-agent market, but the Rangers are mounting a late challenge, sources say.

The Rangers’ motivation in pursuing Beltre could be, in part, to drive up the price the Angels ultimately pay. But the Rangers are gauging trade interest in their team leader, Michael Young, who would need to be moved from third base in order to accommodate the addition of Beltre.

Multiple sources have described the Rangers’ chances of trading Young as less than 50 percent. The Rangers’ talks with the Colorado Rockies about Young were “dormant” as of early Thursday afternoon, according to a source. And Texas isn’t actively discussing Young with other clubs at the moment.