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UPDATE: Cliff Lee chooses Phillies

Dec 13, 2010, 11:55 PM EDT

Cliff Lee

UPDATE: Amazing. Absolutely amazing. According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Rangers have been told that Cliff Lee has chosen the Phillies.

10:42 PM: Todd Zolecki of MLB.com confirms that the Phillies are a legitimate suitor for Lee and adds that the team is shopping Joe Blanton, Raul Ibanez and Kyle Kendrick in order to free up salary.

10:09 PM: I don’t think I have ever seen a story like this evolve so dramatically and unexpectedly in such a short period of time, but here we are. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees “have become increasingly negative” about landing Lee and believe that he is “edging towards the Phillies.”

10:02 PM: This baby is getting serious. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com hears that this is NOT a leverage play on behalf of Darek Braunecker and that Cliff Lee is indeed interested in returning to Philadelphia.

9:48 PM: Jack Curry of YES Network writes that “there is a belief” that Cliff Lee is headed to the Phillies. Curry continues by saying that if he goes to Philadelphia, it will be for “a lot” less money than the Yankees offered.

8:48 PM: According to Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record, it is “highly unlikely” that the Yankees will increase their offer to Cliff Lee. In fact, executives are starting to think that if Lee wanted to be in New York, he would have accepted today.

In other news, first mentioned by Brandon Worley of Lone Star Ball and passed along by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, a private plane left from Love Field (Dallas, TX) this afternoon bound for Little Rock and returned to Love Field this evening. Oh, this is Hot Stove drama at its best.

8:08 PM: A “well-placed source” tells Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia that Lee’s decision is “close.” He names the Phillies as a finalist along with the Yankees and Rangers.

Meanwhile, emboldened after the identity of the “mystery team” was finally revealed, Jon Heyman of SI.com hears that the Phillies are looking for takers for Joe Blanton in order to free up some cash. In other words, Lee should sign with the Long Island Ducks any minute now.

7:42 PM: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com speculated earlier that the Phillies could be the “mystery team” involved on Cliff Lee and now we have it confirmed.

A source with direct knowledge of the talks tells Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that the Phillies are still bidding on the free-agent left-hander.

It’s not clear how involved they are in negotiations, but the source tells Rosenthal that the Phillies are “not out.”

It would obviously be quite a swerve if Lee ended up signing with the Phillies. It would also give them one of the most incredible starting rotations in recent memory. But before we get too far into that, just recognize that the timing on this information is curious to say the least.

We know that the Yankees have a seven-year offer on the table while the Rangers have a six-year offer with an option for a seventh year. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told George King III of the New York Post on Sunday that he would not increase the club’s current offer, which is believed to be worth around $161 million. Is there a chance that Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker is trying to make Cashman and/or Jon Daniels sweat at the last minute? I’d say at least a little bit.

  1. jh0088 - Dec 13, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    Okay, so the mystery team has been revealed.

    Does this mean that all of the mocking about the existence of said mystery team is going to be retracted immediately by everyone from Peter Gammons on down?

    • bigharold - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:31 PM

      Has the media feeding frenzy officially commenced?

      Really? Lee to the Phils, … ? Please!

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:55 PM

        Yes!!! Please!!!!!

  2. rick1922 - Dec 13, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    Never happen this is all BS they will not give LEE more money or years than Holiday who got three years at 20 million and opt for 20 million in year 4.They would have real cubhouse problems if they did think about it.The PHILLIES TRADED HIM BECAUSE OF THE NO OF YEARS AND MONEY HE WAS LOOKING FOR .Phila needs a right fielder and middle relief so you can forget this BS.

    • Brian - Dec 13, 2010 at 9:00 PM

      I dunno, considering the balls that Ruben Amaro has displayed in the past two years, would it surprise you? It takes a massive pair just to be involved in this discussion right now, considering what went down this time last year. Also, I don’t see any clubhouse problems…Halladay’s a pro who obviously isn’t interested in the fiscal side…he wants to win and I’m sure he’d be more than happy to have Cliff Lee pitching after him.

      That said, I don’t think this happens…but I bet the Phillies have the 2nd best chance behind New York.

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:05 PM

        But would Doc give back the 34 for him?

      • Brian - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:23 PM

        Doc keeps his 34. Perfect game trumps all.

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:58 PM

        True. But it would a.) give Doc a chance to be the first to win perfect games with two different numbers; and b.) give Lee a chance to uncork a perfecto in the same number as Doc.

  3. Jonny 5 - Dec 13, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    Hmm? Now isn’t this curious?

    I bet he can’t get good cheese steaks in Texas or NY…. I think Lee would have the most hugest homecoming his first start back here. He also knows anyone caught spitting on Mrs. Lee would be dead. I wonder if Lee wants to prove something and pull a “Roy Halladay” ?
    Because if he does, Rube would be totally rearranged if he didn’t try at least. What was he going to pay Werth again??? I mean, if you didn’t get Werth at X amount of dollars, who do you want for about X amount instead? The money was set aside to cover Werth, if it was offered, it’s in the budget boys, or at least most of it.

    Or Ruben is trying to help Lee totally soak the Yankees? Because he owes him one.

    • mtner77 - Dec 13, 2010 at 9:20 PM

      “I bet he can’t get good cheese steaks in Texas or NY”

      Maybe that is part of Ruben’s offer. Less years but an unlimited team charge account at both Pat’s and Geno’s. It has been many, many years since I have visited Phily, but those are the two landmarks the remember the best. And miss the most.

      I am not certain about Dallas or NY, but you would cringe at what passes for a cheese steak out west.

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:03 PM

        I sure hope not. Either one of those places is a tourist trap—though Jonny disagrees with me, Jim’s is light years better.

      • mtner77 - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:35 AM

        Maybe that is why I was there. I was a tourist. Go figure.

      • macjacmccoy - Dec 14, 2010 at 6:50 AM

        Im a Geno’s guy and am not a tourist but its Tony Lukes . Thats the place that represents the Philadelphia teams in the cheese steak department.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 14, 2010 at 7:41 AM

        Geno’s hands down for me boys. Sure if you can handle all the “quirks” of the owner, sliced beef soaking in Au “juice” on a fresh Italian roll and provolone….. I like Jims, but the “juice”… It does things to me….

  4. Adam - Dec 13, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    I really want to see a foreign team step up and give him 8/200 to go play for them. Anyone outside of MLB really. You think he’d take it?

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 13, 2010 at 8:55 PM

      shhush, I’m pulling out my 09 Lee baseball card to gaze at longingly.

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 11:03 PM

        Man crush time.

  5. Jonny 5 - Dec 13, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    DJ, Is Craig crying yet? Or will he wait until he knows for sure?

    • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 9:59 PM

      So, maybe Zack is Ruben’s Plan B?

  6. Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2010 at 9:58 PM

    “There is a belief Lee is heading to the Phillies, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network.” via MLBTR

    I’m not a Philly fan, but I’d LOVE to see Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt. That’s some crazy shit.

    • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:12 PM

      I am a Phightins Phan and I’d like to see it. Hell, I didn’t want to see him go last year—though that probably (since we’re dealing with Rube here) would have precluded Osa\walt’s addition.

    • Utley's Hair - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:50 AM

      It looks like you’ve got your chance. WOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Jeremiah Graves - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    How long until someone like the Pirates–who have been pocketing money for years–just decide to say f*ck it and drop like 10 years/$300 million, because they can?!

  8. marinermousse - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    I sincerely doubt that Philadelphia would commit so much of its $$$$ to pitching. Please remember that Lee did not sign an extension with Philadelphia last year because they did not want to commit to as many (5 at that time?) years as Lee wanted…..What makes them willing to go 6/7 now?? Brown is still a question mark in right and Francisco/Gload is not impressive. Next year they will have to ante up for a SS and LF…..and Polanco’s base contract is up in 2012 with an expensive option and Utley expires after 2013. This just does not compute for the Phillies at all who will need to spend heavily to continue to field a decent team going forward. Lee will decide between Texas and NY based on all of the intangibles and whether those that favor Texas outweight the assuredly higher offer from NY.
    ++ Pitching 1/2 of his games in which park for the rest of his career?
    ++Time spent with Rangers and his feelings about that.
    ++Perception of how important being on a team that will always have the $$ and commitment to field a winner will be.
    ++Wife’s preferences
    ++CC Sabathia/wife friendship
    My gut feeling is that he will choose Texas UNLESS the money difference/year is greater than 2 or 3mm.

    • oregonchick - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:25 PM

      He seems pretty hung up on the big stage though…and it was pretty clear when he landed in Seattle last year that he was really devastated about leaving the Phillies. I really believed he would end up with the Yankees. We’ll see!

  9. oregonchick - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    LOL@Jeremiah. Hey, this is the ideal scenario for all the other American League teams not located in Texas or NY. Lee has shown himself to be formidable during the regular season but really stunk it up in the WS this year….TWICE! At least we won’t have to face him during the regular season if this deal goes down with the Phillies.

  10. rick1922 - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    A Phillies deal will never happen not in 23 million years.

    • oregonchick - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:44 PM

      That’s almost exactly what I said when Seattle was about to trade Lee…”they will never in a MILLION years trade Lee to the Rangers.”

      Ha!

    • Utley's Hair - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:49 AM

      Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!! Welcome to Year 23,000,001!!!

      • cktai - Dec 14, 2010 at 5:13 AM

        23,002,011 actually.

  11. Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    7-2 with a 2.13 ERA over 10 games, 3 of them CGs. That’s Lee’s postseason numbers, already factoring in his two poor WS starts last year. And also factoring in his two amazing WS starts the previous year.

    Just settin’ the record straight before Utley’s Hair or Johnny5 do.

    • Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:48 PM

      That was @oregonchick. Reply fail.

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 11:16 PM

        Probably the damn autorefresh, right?

    • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 10:53 PM

      With both losses coming outside of the pinstripes.

  12. frankvzappa - Dec 13, 2010 at 11:06 PM

    looks like 5 years of Red Sox vs. Phillies World Series matchups

  13. paperlions - Dec 13, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    Good luck trading away the Blanton and Ibanez contracts; they’d have to eat most of that money to move either one of those guys.

  14. Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 11:21 PM

    One question here: Kendrick? Really? (Okay, technically, that was two questions..)

  15. andrewkw - Dec 13, 2010 at 11:22 PM

    Isn’t it possible some AL teams take Blanton or Ibanez just so the Yankees don’t get Lee?

  16. iammaxa - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:04 AM

    YOW.

  17. dondbaseball - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    Craig,
    this saga has been great theatre with a better suspenseful ending than the Jeter movie that occurred. Now the only thing we need to see is your mea culpa (along with Olney and Gammons) that Heyman had it right. If Murray Chass can do it, I think you can own up and tip your cap. I am not saying that Heyman (or for that matter other writers) get used by agents but in this case, he was right and should be given his props.

    Keep the next “ace” pitcher going to NY Yankees rumors going-Zack, Danks, Buerle or Kazmir.

    • elric718 - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:19 AM

      I was believing the “mystery team” this time, because Lee is not a Bora$ client.

    • mtner77 - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:43 AM

      @Dond

      I think that you are right. Serveral people (Craig included) owe Heyman an apology. And some props.

  18. gt929 - Dec 14, 2010 at 1:00 AM

    Wow, so much for the argument that it was all about the money. Dude left about $60m on the table. And so much for the argument that the union wouldn’t let him take a lower amount. Got to hand it to Mr Lee. Apparently he is truly going for the rings, and he felt Philly was his best chance. LoL, I hope he’s wrong, but I have to admire him.

  19. beantownsports247 - Dec 14, 2010 at 4:18 AM

    wow , the yankees just got screwed over hard , whats there rotation look like ? CC , Petitie ( maybe ) LOL then who . Oh man yanks fans gotta be pissed

  20. macjacmccoy - Dec 14, 2010 at 6:24 AM

    The Cowboys beat the Eagles 2 times in 6 days to end the 2009-2010 NFL season. But Philly has gotten its revenge on Texas in a 3rd of the time. The Eagles defeat the Cowboy in Texas on Sunday and the Phillies beat out the Rangers on Tuesday for Cliff Lee.

    • angrycorgi - Dec 14, 2010 at 7:30 AM

      Revenge on Texas? Okie dokie…how about this…go check the iggles’ trophy case…come back and tell me what you see. Yeah, nothin’. Iggles fans will NEVER see the success that ‘pokes fans have seen, because the iggles will NEVER win a lombardi. Sorry, bud. It’s been 50 years since the iggles won anything of relevance.

  21. bigjb123 - Dec 15, 2010 at 6:28 AM

    EAGLES GOT 3 NFL CHAMPIONSHIPS WHY CANT WE USE THEM THERE IN THE TROPHEY CASE YOU IDIOT ! YOUR COWBOYS STINK TODAY THIS AINT 15 YEARS AGO !

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