Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine, one of the trio that flew to Little Rock, Ark., to meet with Cliff Lee, his wife Kristen and agent Darek Braunecker, felt the club presented "much more informed" offers after listening to the agent in meetings in Orlando and getting a feel for the market.
"I thought it went well," said Levine about the 90-minute session. "Each meeting is revealing in terms of as much as you feel good about where you stand, you learn new things if you listen. We listened a lot yesterday and listened a lot in Orlando and had prepared our offers with kind of an ear toward accommodating some of the things Darek said were important. We also had a better understanding of what the market was.
"We were much more informed in the offers we made so hopefully they were more well received than they would have been otherwise."
Levine said the club isn't sure what the top offer might be out in the market but hopes that the Rangers at least "got close enough to the other offers" for Lee to return.
Levine stressed that all of the meetings with Lee and his agent have been "collaborative and cordial" and that Lee has plenty of information he and his family must talk over before he makes a decision. Levine said the club left knowing that Braunecker would call them after Lee had a chance to think things over. He's not sure when a decision might come.
Levine said the decision is one that Lee's entire family is involved in making, including Kristen, Lee's wife.
"It’s definitely a family decision and it should be," Levine said. "When we sit there and make a presentation, Kristen is right there. She's been central to the discussion and an active participant. That's very important and one of the reasons we have such an affinity in that with Cliff comes Kristen and the whole family, and that bigger picture fits into the Texas Rangers and where we're headed."
Levine believes that Lee's 4 1/2 months in Texas helps the club's chances.
"He’s very straight-forward and every time we've met with him, he's been straight on that point that he enjoyed his time with us," Levine said. "I think he has a strong affinity for the team and there are a lot of players he considers very good friends despite only spending four-plus months with them. Every now and then you catch him talking about the team saying 'we.' I still think there’s that groundswell and he has that connection."
Levine said he enjoyed the opportunity to help present the offers to Lee personally.
"I'm not so far in my career or jaded enough to not be exhilarated to fly with Chuck Greenberg and Ray Davis to Little Rock and meet with his family in their comfort zone," Levine said. "I got to go there with the goal of signing Cliff Lee. That was exciting."