Cliff Lee has agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, according to multiple reports.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told MLB.com that the club was informed of Lee’s decision Monday night.
“Cliff called me,” Daniels told the website. “He was very classy. He was very appreciative of the time he was here and how he was treated. He and his family enjoyed his time here. He also enjoyed his time in Philadelphia and liked some of the things that opportunity had to offer.”
The Cliff Lee Sweepstakes seemingly began Monday as a two-team race between the Yankees and Rangers, but rumors linking him to the Phillies slowly picked up steam throughout the day and now it appears to be official. SI.com’s Jon Heyman reported that the deal is worth $120 million over five years.
CLIFF LEE COVERAGE
Fletcher: Money Isn’t Everything
Price: Yankees’ Options Limited
Lancaster: No Rangers Regrets
Johnson: Best Rotation Ever?
Krasovic: More East Coast Cash
Fantasy Impact | $100M ClubAssuming that the reports of both the Yankees and Rangers offering Lee huge seven-year deals were true, that means Lee left $28 million on the table, though he does get a higher average annual value with the Phillies deal.
Heyman reported that the Yankees’ final offer to Lee was seven years for $148 million, with the seventh year as a player option.
Lee will now join reigning NL Cy Young winner Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in what could be baseball’s best rotation since the Braves of the mid-to-late 1990s.
Lee went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts with the Phillies after the 2009 trade deadline, but it’s his exceptional work in the playoffs, both for the Phillies and the Rangers over the last two postseasons (7-2, 2.13 ERA, an insane 10.00 K/BB ratio), that made him one of this winter’s most sought-after free agents.
The value of adding Lee to an already daunting rotation is obvious for the Phillies, but the path is less clear from here for the Yankees and Rangers. The Yankees were searching for any way to return volley after the Red Sox added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford while the Rangers were trying to keep the defending AL champions together as best they could. Both teams will likely have to turn their sights to the trade market to get the rotation upgrades they desire now.