Yanks up Lee offer after Crawford deal

Immediately after the Red Sox landed Carl Crawford, the Yankees boosted their already whopping offer to Cliff Lee. Their high-stakes rivalry is escalating, hundreds of millions of dollars by the hour.

The other teams in the majors? They can only marvel at Big Boys Gone Wild.

Crawford got $142 million from Boston. New York dangled $140 million in front of Lee, for starters.

Too bad for Andy MacPhail, Baltimore’s president of baseball operations. His Orioles play in the same AL East as the top spenders.

“I want to form the Mid-Atlantic Division,” MacPhail said, totally kidding.

Not everyone is out of the mix, though. The Texas Rangers, eager to re-sign left-handed Lee, went to his home in Arkansas and made a proposal. They didn’t publicly disclose what it was worth.

“We made an offer with substantial additional commitments in years and dollars,” Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg said. “It was a very constructive conversation.”

Predictably, the Yankees quickly raised the ante for their No. 1 target, offering Lee a seven-year contract. That’s up from their original six-year proposal – no telling how much higher than $140 million they went.

The winter meetings wrapped up Thursday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., after a brisk session full of trades and signings. The Orioles made one more deal before leaving, getting shortstop J.J. Hardy and utility infielder Brendan Harris from Minnesota for minor league relievers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson. Combined with the signing of Mark Reynolds earlier this week, it means a new left side of the infield for Baltimore.

Boston general manager Theo Epstein wouldn’t directly confirm Crawford’s seven-year deal.

“If things come together the way we hope and expect, we’ll be really satisfied,” Epstein said.

The speedy Crawford is a four-time All-Star who just won his first Gold Glove. He hit .307 with 19 home runs, 90 RBI and an AL-leading 13 triples for Tampa Bay in 2010. He scored 110 runs and stole 47 bases.


The Mets finalized a $2.5 million, two-year contract with right-hander D.J. Carrasco and a $1.3 million, one-year deal with catcher Ronny Paulino. … Switch-hitting outfielder Melky Cabrera, 26, was near agreement on a one-year contract with the Royals for a guaranteed $1.25 million. … Free-agent pitcher Vicente Padilla finalized a $2 million, one-year deal to return to the Dodgers. … The Pirates made infielder Josh Rodriguez the top pick in the Rule 5 draft. Nineteen players were taken in the major league portion. … In Chicago, more than 400 people braved snowy, windy weather in a line that snaked around Holy Name Cathedral to see the casket of Ron Santo, the former baseball great and broadcaster, who died Friday of bladder cancer.