The Texas Rangers have offered free agent starter Cliff Lee arbitration, although they’ll have to do a little better than that if they want to keep him out of pinstripes next season.

The Yankees have reportedly offered Lee a six-year deal worth around $140 million. That would put him in the same arena as CC Sabathia, who received a seven-year, $161 million contract from the Yankees in the winter of 2008.

Of course, there are other reports that have denied the Yankees offering Lee anything. GM Brian Cashman met with Lee recently and came away impressed with the free agent. But that doesn’t mean anything is on the table yet – especially in the neighborhood of Sabathia money.

Back to the Rangers, offering Lee arbitration is just a procedural move. Nolan Ryan has already come out and said that the Rangers will match any offers that the Yankees come to the table with, although at some point they’ll probably be outbid and will have to back off financially.

Lee, 32, posted a 3.18 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP over 28 starts in 2010. He struck out 185 batters while walking only 18 to help lead the Rangers to their first ever World Series appearance. According to latest MLB future odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com, the Rangers are 16/1 to win the 2011 World Series.

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