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.
The Phillies search for a left-hander for their bullpen took them to veteran Dennys Reyes. After 14 seasons in the majors, Reyes comes to the Phillies, who will be the 11th team that he’s pitched for.
Last season, Reyes was with the St. Louis Cardinals and posted a strong 3.55 ERA, but his peripheral numbers – 21 walks, 25 strikeouts in 38 innings – could be cause for concern. Reyes allowed 12 of the 41 runners that he inherited to score.
The Phillies and Reyes agreed on a one-year, $1.1 million deal.
The annual rite of deciding who is protected from the 40-man roster and who is not protected came to a head with five recent roster additions. The Phillies deemed Justin DeFratus, Freddy Galvis, Harold Garcia, Cesar Hernandez and Matt Rizzotti worthy of needing protection and added the five to the roster.
As usual, there were also some notable players who weren’t protected and can now be taken by another team in the Rule 5 Draft, which will be held December 9.
The Phillies bullpen is looking pretty empty these days, but one big step was taken to keep one of the more effective arms in Philadelphia. Jose Contreras and the Phillies agreed to a two-year, $5.5 million deal that will keep Contreras in Philly through the 2012 season. Contreras was a very pleasant surprise out of the pen in 2010, posting a 3.34 ERA in 67 appearances and averaging nine strikeouts per nine innings.
Erik Kratz was one of the great stories to come out of the 2010 Triple-A All-Star Game at Coca-Cola Park. The veteran minor league catcher left the game earlier than expected, but for a good reason; the Pirates decided to purchase his contract and they wanted to make sure he stayed healthy. After nine minor league seasons and over 600 minor league games, Kratz would finally be a major leaguer.
The Phillies have signed former Tigers reliever Eddie Bonine to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Bonine, who was 4-1 with a 4.63 ERA in Detroit last season, was outrighted to Toledo by the Tigers and elected to take free agency rather than head back to the minors.
The Phillies first free agent signing isn’t a major one by any stretch of the imagination. Veteran utility infielder Pete Orr has signed with the Phillies after spending the past three seasons in the Nationals organization and having spent time with the Nats in both 2008 and 2009.
Orr is a career .260 hitter with 519 major league at-bats. He has played second, short, third and both corner outfield spots in his career and will at least provide them with depth and a veteran utility infielder.
Before joining the Nationals organization, Orr spent eight seasons in the Braves organization and played all of 2005 and 2006 in the majors with Atlanta. Orr is 31 years old.