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Lee, Crawford top free agents

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Baseball’s offseason market got busy even faster than usual Tuesday, with teams forced to make quick decisions on contract options as they prepare offers to a relatively weak free-agent class headed by Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford.

Under modifications agreed to by players and owners in September, free agents can start negotiating with all clubs on the sixth day after the World Series, which is Sunday, rather than the 16th.

Teams and players must decide single options by the third day after the World Series. For mutual options, the side making the first decision must act by the second day, with the other party deciding by the fourth.

Lee is the top available pitcher on the free-agent market, and the New York Yankees are set to pursue him.

Traded from Seattle to Texas during the season, Lee helped the Rangers reach the World Series for the first time, and Rangers president Nolan Ryan hopes to re-sign him.

Crawford also is expected to be highly sought-after, with the Los Angeles Angels and Yankees thought to be interested in the speedy outfielder.

The Yankees hope to re-sign their trio of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who still hasn’t decided whether to pitch next year or retire.

Other free agents include Philadelphia right fielder Jayson Werth, Boston catcher Victor Martinez, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, Tampa Bay slugger Carlos Pena and closer Rafael Soriano, and Angels designated hitter Hideki Matsui.

Texas must make a quick decision on whether to exercise its half of a $9 million mutual option on Vladimir Guerrero or pay the designated hitter a $1 million buyout.


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