Cliff Lee rejects Yankees bid, returns to Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies have added to their already stacked pitching staff with the shock signing of free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee.
The Associated Press reports that Lee has agreed to a five-year $120m contract with the Phillies, pending the 32-year-old passes a physical.
Lee, the most highly-sought after free-agent of this offseason, was hotly pursued by the New York Yankees, Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman offered Lee a six-year, $138m contract with a vesting option that increased the value to $154m, according to ESPN.com
The Benton, AR native has made a total of $23.4m in salary in nine MLB seasons. He will earn $24m per year from 2011 to 2018.
Lee returns to Philadelphia just a season after being traded away to the Seattle Mariners.
Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner with the Cleveland Indians, was acquired by the Phillies in July 2009 and helped Philadelphia reach the 2009 World Series.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. sent Lee to the Mariners 19 December 2009 in a four-team trade that brought former Blue Jays ace Roy Haladay to Philadelphia.
Lee’s stint with Seattle was short-lived as the Mariners jettisoned the pitcher to the Rangers in July. The Rangers reached the 2010 World Series for the first time in franchise history, due in large part to Lee’s arm.
In 10 career post-season starts, Lee is 7-2 with a sparkling 2.33 ERA and a miniscule WHIP of 0.816.
Lee has a regular season record of 102-61, 3.85 ERA and 1.256 WHIP in nine seasons
Entering the 2011 season, the Phillies now boast undoubtedly the best staring rotation in the league with a top-four staff composed of Halladay, Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.
Off the field, Amaro Jr. has some work to do to ensure the roster is under the team’s opening day budget.
Prior to the signing of Lee and reliever Dennis Reyes, the Phillies had already committed $150 million to 17 players, according to MLB.com.
Amaro Jr. is reported to be shopping starting pitcher Joe Blanton, owed $17m over the next two-seasons, and left-fielder Raul Ibanez who is set to earn $11.5 in this the final year of his contract.