NEW YORK (AP) — The Yankees have completed two days of meetings and are prepared to pursue left-hander Cliff Lee, the top available pitcher on the free-agent market.

In the team’s first offseason following the death of owner George Steinbrenner, New York has said its top priorities are re-signing Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who all became free agents Tuesday.

The Yankees’ No. 1 priority from outside the organization is Lee, an official familiar with the meetings said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcements were made.

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Lee was 2-0 against the Yankees for Philadelphia in the 2009 World Series and beat New York for Texas in this year’s AL championship series. Lee was 0-2 against San Francisco in the Rangers’ five-game World Series loss.

Free agents can start negotiating with all teams starting Sunday. Texas says it hopes to re-sign Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner for Cleveland.

Tampa Bay left fielder Carl Crawford and Rays setup man Joaquin Benoit are among other free agents the Yankees discussed. The Los Angeles Angels also are thought to be interested in Crawford.

Tuesday’s session included managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, general manager Brian Cashman, president Randy Levine, chief operating officer Lonn Trost and assistant general manager Jean Afterman.

Hal Steinbrenner and his brother, co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner, reviewed recommendations from team officials on Monday.

NOTES: RHP Chad Gaudin became a free agent Tuesday when he refused an outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. LHP Royce Ring was sent outright to Scranton and OF Melky Mesa was added to the 40-man roster from Class-A Tampa.


AP freelance writer Mark Didtler in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.