Cliff Lee looked – as he often does – mighty awesome last night, mowing down the New York Yankees in the ALCS. If his impending free agent price tag could possibly have gone higher, it would have.

But as it stands, it’s already sufficiently high that Chicago Cubs fans should probably allow visions of a Lee-led rotation fade from their minds.

Top priorities after the Cubs name their new manager will be adding a left-handed bat, most likely at first, and possibly another starting pitcher. Lee’s last deal was $15 million for four years, and I’m guessing he’ll get a significant raise, which means he wouldn’t fit in the Cubs’ 2011 budget. cubs.com.

Ignoring the awkward phrasing (which suggests that the Cubs could afford Lee only if they could get him for less than $4 million per season), the point remains a simple one: short of unloading several existing contractual commitments, the Cubs are not going to have a great deal of money to spend this winter. Signing Lee would almost certainly eat up the entirety of what the Cubs have to spend – debate amongst yourselves whether he might still be worth it, though.



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