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Cliff Lee Taking Slow Approach To Free Agency

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Cliff Lee will be taking a slow approach to free agency.

“We’re just gathering information. That’s always the early stages of this process,” agent Darek Braunecker said Monday, a day after the former AL Cy Young Award winner became a free agent.

Lee is being pursued by the New York Yankees and also is wanted back by the Texas Rangers, who acquired him from Seattle in July. The 32-year-old left-hander was a combined 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA for the Mariners and Rangers, striking out 185 and walking 18 in 212 1-3 innings.

He was 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight career postseason starts before losing to San Francisco in Games 1 and 5 of the World Series.

“This one certainly is a little bit unique in that he’s clearly the best player on the free-agent market and not a lot of other things are going to impact our position on Cliff,” Braunecker said.

Lee was with Cleveland from 2002 until he was traded to Philadelphia in 2009, and is friends with Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia. Because he’s familiar with most if not all major league cities, Lee has little need to tour his suitors.

“We’re going to take it on of kind of a team-by-team, case-by-case basis. I don’t expect Cliff to be flying all over the country,” Braunecker said. “We’re really in just the infancy stages of it all. We don’t really ever handicap the timing of any of this stuff. We believe that when the right deal presents itself, we’ll be prepared to act. And when that might be, that’s anybody’s guess at this point.”

Next week’s general managers’ meetings in Orlando, Fla., will be used for many clubs and agents to feel each other out. A focal point of the offseason is the winter meetings from Dec. 6-9 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Lee tops a free-agent class that includes outfielders Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth and Magglio Ordonez; first basemen Carlos Pena and Paul Konerko; catcher Victor Martinez; designated hitter Hideki Matsui and closer Rafael Soriano.

Shortstop Jhonny Peralta became the first player to reach a deal, staying with the Detroit Tigers for an $11.25 million, two-year contract. He gets $5.25 million next year and $5.5 million in 2012, and the Tigers have a $6 million team option for 2013 with a $500,000 buyout.

“I feel happy. I want to be with the Tigers,” Peralta said. “Playing shortstop, for me, is my natural position. I feel really comfortable.”

Peralta played shortstop for most of his career before becoming Cleveland’s regular third baseman in 2009. Detroit acquired him in July, and he played 46 of his 57 games with the Tigers at shortstop.

Defensively, the Tigers hope Peralta and smooth-fielding Brandon Inge will complement each other well on the left side of the infield after playing together toward the end of last season.

“I think they’re a good combination together,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “We liked the way it looked.”

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AP Sports Writer Noah Trister in Detroit contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.