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Lee's agent unsure if he'll attend GM Meetings

Lee's agent unsure if he'll attend GM Meetings

NEW YORK -- Darek Braunecker, the agent for free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee, is still unsure whether or not he'll attend the General Managers' Meetings in Orlando, Fla., which kick off Monday night and end Thursday.

Lee, by far the most coveted free-agent pitcher in the open market, has the Rangers and Yankees among a reported seven to eight teams fighting over his services for 2011 and beyond.

"This year, it's GMs only, no support staff, no assistant GMs; nobody other than the GMs and owners are coming in," Braunecker, who will make a decision about attending later on Monday, told MLB.com about going to Orlando.

"Significant changes are going to limit the kind of things we've been able to do in the past. If we deem it's beneficial, we'll go. If not, we won't go. ... The bottom line is those Meetings serve different purposes for different agents and people."

The GM Meetings usually serve as a venue for clubs to get a better feel for the market before making moves at the Winter Meetings. But with the World Series ending three days sooner this year and the exclusive window for teams to negotiate with their own free agents shrinking from 15 to five days, some have noticed the market speed up a bit this year.

"I think we have noticed that there is a little bit more activity earlier in the calendar thanks to these rules," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said recently. "Whether it leads to a slew of early signings or not remains to be seen."

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Lee isn't likely to be one of those early signings.

Braunecker re-stated on Monday that negotiations regarding Lee are still in the "initial stages," adding: "I don't know how to handicap that; it's hard to say. I think there's a process that obviously we go through with each of these situations."

The question is whether the GM Meetings will help that process.

Teams pretty much already know where things stand with Lee -- it will take a hefty contract to sign him, and there will be plenty of competition -- and the ace left-hander seemingly has a good gauge on where he stands with his two most likely suitors.

Lee spent most of the 2010 season with the Rangers, a club that has openly expressed a desire to bring him back. And on Wednesday, he met with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman at his home in Little Rock, Ark.

The GMs will have a full day of their own meetings on Tuesday, will gather with MLB Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig on Wednesday, and then sit in on Thursday morning's joint owners meeting.

The Winter Meetings will take place in Orlando from Dec. 6-9.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Gonzo and 'The Show'. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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