With contradictory details emerging from all corners of the Disney World Swan & Dolphin Hotel in Orlando, Florida, where all of the baseball writers in the country have gathered for the MLB Winter Meetings, it's hard to tell just how much faith to put in the stories this morning that have the Washington Nationals reportedly willing to go BIG in their pursuit of free agent left-hander Cliff Lee. ESPN.com's Buster Olney (@buster_ESPN) gave a name to go with FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal's report last night in an article entitled, "Sources: Lee likely to get 7-year offer", in which Mr. Rosenthal wrote that, "Lee, the prized free-agent left-hander, will receive a seven-year offer," from an unnamed team, "according to major-league sources," when Mr. Olney wrote on Twitter this morning that, "There is a growing speculation among rival agents and executives that the Washington Nationals are going to throw a HUGE number at Cliff Lee."
SI.com's Jon Heyman (@SI_JonHeyman) followed shortly thereafter with the Tweet that shook NatsTown up writing, "Source: #nats "very much'' in on cliff lee. Rumor is they may throw out 7 year offer," but over the next couple hours as the reports and rumors swirled, the Nats finally commented with team sources quoted in Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore's article entitled, "Take a deep breath on Cliff Lee to the Nationals", saying that a 7-year offer to Lee was, "Not happening," or as another source put it, there was, "Zero chance," the Nats were going that long.
MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in an article entitled, "Nationals still in mix for prized pitcher Lee", wrote that building on reports of Lee's friendship from his time with Philadelphia with the newest National Jayson Werth, and the Nationals' desperation to add an arm to their rotation with Stephen Strasburg likely out til August or September, "It would not be a surprise," if the Nats were willing to make a long-term offer to Lee. In a follow-up report on Twitter (@washingnats) Mr. Ladson just wrote that he, "...was informed a few minutes ago that the #Nats continue to have dialogue with agent Darek Braunecker about LHP Cliff Lee," and FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) wrote recently that the, "#Nats are "on everybody" -- including Lee -- says one exec. They are trying to make a statement."
With the signing of Werth and the Nats stealing headlines through the first two days of the Winter Meetings, it seems the Nationals already made a statement. There's a new team in the majors willing to throw money around to get what they want, and they're not going to apologize for doing it either.
Latest Update: SI.com's Jon Heyman (SI_JonHeyman) via Twitter: "Cliff Lee has at least one 7 year offer for $20-25 mil (not the nats). #yankees have been intending to stay at 6 yrs tops. We'll see."