According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, and Jim Luttrell of the New York Times, free agent pitcher, Cliff Lee, has agreed to sign a five-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies worth between $100 and $120 million.
The ace lefthander’s decision to sign with the Phillies comes as surprise to those who followed reports made throughout this offseason. While there were murmurs that a mystery “third” team was pursuing Lee throughout the past few weeks, the two highest bidders—the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers—were considered to be the only franchises willing (and able) to sign the lefty. New York had offered Lee the two most lucrative contracts, one proposing 6 years and $138 million guaranteed (with a $16 million dollar player option), and another at 7 years and about $150 million.
Hours before Lee had made his decision to sign with Philadelphia, his agent Darek Braunecker contacted Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman to let the Yankees know that they were “going in a different direction.”
Lee, the 2008 American League Cy Young Award Winner will join the 2010 National League Cy Young award winner, Roy Halladay along with 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels, All Star Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton in the Phillies’ (projected) 2011 rotation. However, to relax some pressure on the Phillies’ weighty 2011 payroll, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. could trade Joe Blanton and insert reliever Jose Contreras into the rotation.