Does Yankees’ seven-year offer to Lee put Nationals in a box?

While most of you were sleeping, the Cliff Lee sweepstakes took a couple more twists, both of them indirectly set in motion by the Nationals, but neither of them helping Washington’s chances of landing the left-handed pitcher.

First, the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million contract, according to various reports. Crawford’s deal is barely $2 million more a season than the one the Nationals gave Jayson Werth, but the price, at least partially, reflects the way the Nationals helped set the market for Crawford with the Werth deal. Crawford is two years younger, and is an even better defender than Werth. (And before you get started about Mike Rizzo bidding on the wrong outfielder, remember the Nationals could have shot the moon on Crawford, and chose not to. He said he liked Werth better. Right or wrong, that was Rizzo’s choice.)

Anyway, with the Red Sox signing Crawford and teaming him with Adrian Gonzalez, the Yankees had to do something. So they added a year to their reported six-year offer to Lee, putting a seven-year offer on the table for the lefty. Even if the Nationals go to seven years - and multiple team sources have said they won’t - it’s tough to see them getting Lee for anything less than an exorbitant dollar figure that might border on irresponsible. I could be wrong on this, but I’d expect to see Lee signing with the Yankees in a matter of days, though the Rangers may still have a shot for sentimental reasons. Cash was the Nationals’ best play, though, and now it looks like that might not be enough.

Welcome to the travails of big-market offseasons: Sometimes, when you fight with the Yankees, it won’t turn out how you’d like.