In one of the most surprising moves in this MLB offseason free agent left hander Cliff Lee has opted to sign a five-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies rather than the Yankees and Rangers, who believed to be the two favorites to land the highly-touted ace.
The deal is worth $120 million and nearly $50 million on the table with Yankees.
Lee posted a 3.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 28 starts this past year for the Mariners and Rangers, striking out 185 batters while issuing only 18 walks.
The Phillies traded him last season in a three-team deal that brought this year’s NL Cy Young winner Roy Halladay to Philadelphia. Lee now joins Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels to give Philly a Fab Four in the rotation that could go down as one of the best in league history.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR…
Phillies – They have the tools in place to continue to build a dynasty. Look for them to shop Joe Blanton, who is owned $17 million over the next two years, in an attempt to cushion payroll concerns. The offense has more questions in it, but is more than capable of producing runs.
Rest of NL East – Nice season. The Phillies were already favorites in the division and now that multiplies immensley. No other team has the arms to compete with them in series after series. No team is likely to stand a bigger hit than the rebuilding New York Mets.
Yankees – Big losers. Rarely is the Evil Empire's money turned down, but in this case Lee opted to go where he wanted to. After watching the rival Red Sox acquire Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in the past week and facing a future with Andy Pettitte as the team's No. 2 pitcher it may be time to panic in the Bronx.
Rangers – Clearly they would have loved to have Lee, but in the long run it may be best that the franchise didn't handcuff its future on one arm. They will likely add pitching elsewhere and still have a great, young nucleus to compete in a much weaker AL West.
Fantasy Owners – Lee has always been fantasy gold, but a return to the Senior Circuit can only help his numbers. In addition, he will get plenty of great run support playing for the Phillies a place where he has already excelled.
Fantasy Baseball, MLB