All reports say that Cliff Lee signed a five-year deal worth about $100 million guaranteed, with a possible option for a sixth year.
This despite the fact that all the negotiations between the Yankees and Rangers has centered around the idea that it would take no less than seven years to land the free agent pitcher. New York’s last offer was reportedly worth as much as $154M.
The Rangers hinted they would go even higher, asking Lee’s agent to name his price.
So why would he sign with Philadelphia for $50M dollars less than the best available offer?
For starters, Lee loved his brief stint in Philadelphia and was sad to go after the 2009 season. It’s also not clear what role Lee’s unpleasant experience in New York may have played in souring his view of the city. He certainly appreciated the Rangers offer, but was not swayed by their proximity to his Arkansas home.
But Lee will be pitching on a stellar staff, with teammates he already knows and likes, in the National League (always a plus for a starting pitcher) and with a lineup that (even without Jayson Werth) gives him an excellent shot to play in his third straight World Series in 2011.
Also, $100M is not exactly chump change. Sometimes, it’s just enough to know that that bigger offer was there. Accepting a slight discount may unnerve the union, but Lee ultimately chose the best fit for him — and did it in a way that didn’t manage to humiliate his old team or draw unnecessary attention to himself.
In any case, it’s the steal of the century for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro. Many teams were mentioned in the hunt for Lee, but the Phillies did not come into play until the last minute, and they end up walking away with the biggest prize.
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