Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prodigal Son returns: Cliff Lee headed back to Philadelphia

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

The Philadelphia Phillies have apparently won the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.

Philly.com reported early Tuesday morning that a source familiar with negotiations says Lee has reached a preliminary agreement on a contract with the four-time defending NL East champions. The site revealed that the deal is contingent on Lee passing a physical.

Multiple additional sources indicate the pact will be for five years, possibly with a vesting option for a sixth season, and will be worth in excess of $100 million.

The news caps a busy night for Lee, who according to reports, personally phoned representatives from the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees late Monday to let them know those clubs were out of the running for his services. The Bronx Bombers were turned away despite offering "a menu" of different contract options to wear the pinstripes.

The 32-year-old native of Arkansas went a combined 12-9 with a 3.18 earned-run average in 28 starts with Seattle and Texas in 2010. He also finished with a career-best seven complete games.

Originally acquired from the Phillies by the Mariners on December 16, 2009, Lee was 8-3 on a struggling M's squad before the Rangers picked him up on July 9.

Despite back issues which caused his record to dip to 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 15 starts with Texas, the left-hander was instrumental in guiding the club to its first World Series appearance in franchise history -- a six-game loss to San Francisco.

Lee had also aided the Phils in their quest for a second consecutive title after his acquisition from Cleveland on July 29, 2009, going 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA and three complete games. He was the winning pitcher in both of Philadelphia's victories in a six-game defeat to the New York Yankees.

The former fourth-round pick of the Montreal Expos in the 2000 draft, Lee has compiled a 102-61 record with a 3.85 ERA and 20 complete games in 222 appearances (218 starts) since breaking in with the Tribe in 2002.

His presence will give Philadelphia a formidable front four in the starting rotation, along with 2010 NL Cy Young winner Roy Halladay, 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels and late-season acquisition Roy Oswalt.

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