Rangers look to clear payroll for Lee

This is getting interesting.

The Rangers are listening to trade offers for third baseman Michael Young, major-league sources say.

Young, the face of the Rangers’ franchise, could be moved in an effort to clear payroll for free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee, or simply as part of a salary exchange for a comparably priced player.

No deal is close, according to one source with knowledge of the discussions.

An official with one rival club said the Rangers are gauging interest in Young and offering to pay a small portion of his salary in any trade.

Young, 34, is under contract for the next three years at $16 million per season. He has a limited-no trade clause that allows him to block deals to all but eight teams, according to a source.

It would be difficult for the Rangers to trade Young and obtain salary relief, because a team with enough financial resources to pay Young could sign Adrian Beltre for similar annual salary.

The timing of a deal this offseason would make sense, however — Young will attain the right next May to block any trade as a player with 10 years of major-league service, five with the same club.