Cliff Lee signs with Phillies

According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, LHP Cliff Lee has decided to sign with the Phillies.

I’m trying to convince myself that this is not a big deal – at least for the long term, which is probably true – but, damn, it’s hard trying to lie to myself.  They’re going to have a pretty sick rotation, one that will be very difficult to compete with, so long as everyone stays healthy.

Personally, I am not sure I could stomach giving out what is basically a six-year deal to a 32-year-old pitcher, who recently dealt with back issues.  But, I can’t blame the Phillies for going for it, much like the Mets did with Johan Santana after 2007.

The truth is, the Phillies have several bloated contracts about ready to tip over their roster, their best position players are not what they once were, they’ve murdered their farm system to get the rotation they have, which then cost them more money to keep, all while the clock is ticking.

So, if I were them, knowing the window might soon be closing, I’d probably go all in as well, while I still can, and give six years and more than $100 million to Lee too, if I thought it could get me a second World Championship in four years.  I mean, for example, if the Phillies lose in the playoffs again, then fade in to history, and all they had to show for five consecutive post-season appearances is one ring, Philadelphia will be disappointed.  So, again, I can’t blame them for taking their best shot here…

However, with or without payroll flexibility, for a team like the Mets, with where they are right now on the roster and in the farm, all in transition, giving a six-year deal for a 32-year pitcher – no matter who he is – would be foolish.

Updated at 11:59 pm:

Lee will sign a five-year deal, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, which, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, is worth more than $100 million and contains an easily reachable vesting option for 2016, when he’ll be 37 years old.

According to Buster Olney, Lee turned down a six-year, $138 million deal from the Yankees, which contained a seventh-year player option for an additional $16 million.

He turned down a similar deal from the Rangers, worth even more money, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports.

Updated at 10:13 pm:

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees believe Lee will sign with the Phillies.

Similarly, in a post to Twitter, Jack Curry of the YES Network says “There is a belief Lee is heading to the Phillies,’ and for a lot less money than what he’s been offered by the Yankees.

Update, 9:35 pm:

“The Phillies’ club policy typically precludes contracts of longer than three years for pitchers,” says Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.  “Given the length of Lee’s other offers, the Phillies might have to break with tradition and offer a deal of at least five years to bring him into the fold.”

Update, 7:35 pm:

In an update for FoxSports.com, Ken Rosenthal says, “The Phillies are still bidding for Lee.”

The rumor now is that the ‘mystery team’ is some place he is comfortable living, and so, not that it has to mean a team he played for, but, if not Texas, that leaves Cleveland or Philadelphia… and I doubt it’s the Indians.

Original Post at 6:20 pm:

In talking to people in MLB this past weekend, I get the feeling Lee is pushing his market as far as he has can so to get the best possible deal from Texas, which is where he hopes to re-sign.

That’s good news.  I have no idea how it could be the Phillies, actually, since they’re pretty much at the brink with their budget, much like the Mets.

Also good news, yesterday, DC reporter Bill Ladson of MLB.com said, “The Nationals are out of the Cliff Lee sweepstakes,” though, “No reason was given as to why the left-hander passed on Washington.”

I don’t know where he lands, so long as it isn’t with the other teams in NL East.

The buzz this weekend has been Lee will decide early this week.