Just two days shy of the one-year anniversary of Cliff Lee being dealt away from the Phillies, the free agent left-hander has agreed to return. As it turns out, the Phillies were the mystery team involved in negotiations with Lee over the past couple of weeks. It was thought that the Yankees and Rangers were the front-runners to get Lee’s services, but the Phillies were able to sweep in to sign Lee.
The surprising part of the deal is that the Yankees were thought to be offering a seven-year deal and the Rangers were at six-years, but the Phillies were able to get Lee with a five-year deal. The deal will pay Lee $120 million over five years.
Lee was originally acquired by the Phillies from Cleveland in July of 2009 and helped return the Phillies to the World Series for the second straight season. Then, surprisingly, the Phillies dealt Lee to Seattle last December for three young prospects. The trade didn’t sit well with Phillies fans, but was deemed necessary at the time to restock the farm system which had been decimated by trades, including a deal to bring Roy Halladay to the Phillies from Toronto. Lee finished last season with Texas, helping to put the Rangers into the World Series for the first time in their history.
The Phillies will now have one of the most potent pitching rotations in baseball history with Halladay, Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. To help fit Lee into the fold financially, the Phillies may now look to deal pitcher Joe Blanton, keeping the fifth spot in the rotation open for either Kyle Kendrick or rookie Vance Worley.