In comments he made Monday night after Game 5 of the World Series, Lee gave almost no insight as to where he prefers to pitch in 2011. He could stay with the Texas Rangers, or he could head to his fifth team since 2009.
He actually gave three different takes. The first was full-on sentimental.
[Photos: Cliff Lee's game-day moments]
From ESPN Dallas:
Cliff Lee "would love to be" part of the Texas Rangers next season. He's just not sure if that's what will happen. [...]
"There's a lot to build on," Lee said after taking the loss in the World Series finale. "We did a lot of firsts for this organization. We were the second-best team in the big leagues. We should be proud of that. We're going to use this for motivation and come in next year and try to do better."
Lots of "we" in there. Sounds great. Let's celebrate. But wait. Lee's a free agent. The only "we" in free agency involves husband and wife. Along with agent and client.
So, Lee backed off.
"I don't know if I'm going to be a part of it," Lee admitted.
Honest and true, if also a bit squirmy.
[Other free agents: Derek Jeter and more on the list]
Later, Lee seemed to tire of free agency chatter.
"I don't know, I'm not thinking too much about the business decisions right now to be honest with you. I'm more thinking about how much fun it was with these guys, and how much I enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to getting home with my family and relaxing. That's it. That's going to take care of itself later, but right now I'm not too concerned with it."
He's like, c'mon, we just lost the World Series. But then...
"This is the first time I've been a free agent and I'm going to see what that's all about. It's an earned right by a player once you get six-plus years, and I'm going to take advantage of that and see where it leads me. I know I've enjoyed it here and I'm never ruling out the possibility of coming back, but I've got to play things out and see how it goes."
Now he's not "ruling out the possibility" of staying with the Rangers, which makes it sound like the Yankees are about to call a press conference. Like some of his pitches in the World Series, Lee (6.94 ERA) is kind of all over the place.
That's OK — we weren't expecting a definitive answer.