The New York Yankees and Texas Rangers have been battling it out for the services of ace left-hander Cliff Lee for several weeks. The Nationals were mentioned at one point, but…c’mon. No one really thought the Nationals would be a part of it.
Then, all of a sudden, the Phillies’ name popped up. I didn’t think there was remotely a chance that Cliff Lee would return to Philadelphia, but it’s happening. According to multiple reports, Lee is signing with the Phillies.
That’s right, the Phillies starting rotation will be (in no particular order): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. I honestly don’t care what order you want to put them in. Either Oswalt or Hamels is your fourth starter. I can’t stop laughing. That is a filthy, filthy starting rotation. This is better than what the Atlanta Braves had in the 1990’s. This is insane.
There were a couple of reasons that I didn’t think this would ever happen when I started hearing the rumors. First of all, I didn’t think this team had the money. Raul Ibanez is still on the books for 2011 and so is Oswalt. None of us know the Phillies’ books, but I thought topping out the payroll in the $140 million area was admirable. Apparently, someone did some creative accounting (or they had a lot more money than they led on).
Secondly, I genuinely thought that Lee had animosity towards the club for shipping him to Siberia (aka Seattle) last offseason. He seemed to feel like the rug was seriously pulled out from underneath him. One wouldn’t logically think that he’d re-sign with the Phillies at a discount. Maybe he wasn’t as angry as we thought?
Oh yeah, so numbers. Of course. Pardon me, I’m a little stunned right now. The deal is reportedly for five years (the Yanks offered seven, or at least an option for a seventh) at around $20 million per year. That means that, according to numerous reports, he left money on the table. The Yankees were offering a few more million a year.
Maybe winning does count for something (and not appreciating his wife getting spit on. Did he intentionally toy with NY? Oh do tell!)? This is something else.
And for what it’s worth to our Facebook users: Check out the Welcome Back, Cliff Lee page.