Cliff Lee's agent: Nationals 'not eliminated by any means' [UPDATED]

Adam Kilgore
Copyright 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010; 5:11 PM

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo yesterday called acquiring premier free agent starter Cliff Lee "a long shot," and surely, with the New York Yankees closing in, he's right. But the Nationals, Lee's agent said, aren't out of the Lee sweepstakes yet. "They're not eliminated by any means," Darek Braunecker said in the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel at baseball's winter meetings. "Not on our part, anyway." While Lee is deer hunting in Arkansas, Braunecker is at the winter meetings to meet with interested teams, which he said number four and include the Yankees and Texas Rangers. He said he'd learn later today if the Nationals still wanted to meet with him, but was open to a discussion with Rizzo. "I can just tell you we're staying in touch" with the Nationals, Braunecker said. Let's not be naive: Braunecker's best interest is to give the impression as many teams as possible would like to sign Lee in order to drive up demand in his client. But it's still interesting to know Lee hasn't completely ruled out Washington, especially after the Nationals' stunning contract to Jayson Werth. Lee played with and became close friends with Werth on the National League champion Phillies in 2009. "He and Jayson Werth are like best buddies," Braunecker said. "For what it's worth." Update, 5:00 p.m.: Mike Rizzo said he has met face-to-face with Braunecker at the winter meetings, which indicates the Nationals still have a chance to sign Lee, no matter how dim.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company