Cliff Lee Signs with Phillies

Texas Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan is reporting that the Phillies have signed free agent left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News is reporting that it is a five-year deal. Joel Sherman says it is “in the 5 yr, $100M range”.

In the wake of losing Jayson Werth to the Washington Nationals, the Phillies could have done nothing and been fine heading into 2011, but GM Ruben Amaro made sure that the Phillies would continue to be among the premier teams in Major League Baseball.

The Phillies already have nearly $147 million committed to 18 players with three arbitration cases left to settle. Assuming Lee will earn around $20 million in 2011, that brings the Phillies’ payroll up to $167 million, a 21 percent increase from last year’s Opening Day payroll. Presumably, this leaves them little flexibility to round out the rest of the roster and thus will be doing so with cheaper options, mostly in-house. Between now and spring training, Amaro will try to unload the hefty contracts of Raul Ibanez and/or Joe Blanton.

According to Baseball Reference, Werth was a four-win player on average over the last three years while Lee has been a 5.5-win player. On that exchange, in a vacuum, the Phillies made a slight upgrade but do have some risk to account for with an outfield that will include some variation of Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Domonic Brown, and Ben Francisco.

Phillies fans are extremely enthusiastic, and for good reason: a rotation of Roy Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels may rank among the best in baseball history.

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62 comments

  1. css228

    December 15, 2010 12:30 PM

    Fair enough Bill, its just cameron defeatss the purpose of dumping blantons salalry, and I’m not sure how much he’d give defensively

  2. Bill Baer

    December 15, 2010 12:47 PM

    Yeah, if the whole issue is a salary dump, then Blanton-for-Cameron isn’t a good move. However, it does give the Phillies a right-handed OF bat that crushes left-handed pitching.

    With the current Phillies’ setup, I’d swap a #5 starter for a quality platoon OF bat (who happens to be decent defensively still) without blinking.

  3. hk

    December 15, 2010 02:10 PM

    css228 and Bill,

    Cameron’s due $7.25M for 2011. Blanton’s due $8.5M per year in 2011 and 2012. Therefore, over the next two years, the Phillies will save $9.75M. That’s a salary dump – even if the majority of the savings occur next year – with the added bonus of Cameron being able to help the club in 2011.

  4. Your Majesty

    December 15, 2010 04:36 PM

    I’m interested in seeing how this affects free agents, soon-to-be free agents, and players who need to change teams.

    Some RH bats or RPs on middling teams (Mike Sweeney) may be willing to take less money for a solid shot at a ring. And maybe some of our upcoming free agents (Ryan Madson?) will be more open to a hometown discount.

    Then again, some may see the cash register open and demand more money.

  5. ljk

    December 15, 2010 06:25 PM

    Blanton for Raburn – does either team need to throw in additional players to make it even?

    No need to do anything hasty with JB though. He has value: generally consistent, healthy, fairly paid (Westbrook’s contract is a confirmation) and a moderate time commitment. Plenty of teams need pitching. He’s a good hedge for injuries for the Phils, and we could need him in 2012 (with Lidge, Oswalt, Ibanez, Rollins, etc. as possible free agents, we might want him depending on the team). Come on Rueben- use him or trade him for another useful part, just do not Abreu him.

  6. Dan

    December 15, 2010 06:53 PM

    For the people wondering how Halladay feels about us getting Lee, apparently Ruben asked for his blessing before making the deal. He gave it.

    I <3 Doc and Lee.

  7. Rob

    December 15, 2010 08:49 PM

    And for those wondering how Werth feels — he’s pissed.

  8. ljk

    December 16, 2010 02:00 AM

    Doc has to be psyched. He is set to make $95M; better than any pitcher aside from Sabathia, Lee, and Zito (2 of 3 are in the same tier). He wanted to leave the AL East. He had nearly unrivaled personal success (2 no-hitters and a CY Young) and personal-best team success (reached LCS) in his first year with Phils. Plus his team’s spring training home is near his real home. His new team just signed the biggest free agent to help him win a world series. Does he seem like the type to complain here? Remember his composure in Toronto? He’s got to be psyched.

  9. css228

    December 16, 2010 11:56 AM

    Alright didn’t know Cameron’s contract. Also how’s his defense?

  10. hk

    December 16, 2010 02:24 PM

    css228, Cameron has been an exceptional fielder throughout his career although I suspect his age will probably reduce him to being just a good fielder this year.

  11. css228

    December 16, 2010 11:58 PM

    Goods fine with me. I knew he was on web gems a lot but I also know that’s a terrible way to judge fielding

  12. Lifetime Phan

    December 17, 2010 05:07 PM

    GOOOO PHILLIES!!!! Yank fans, you were psyched last week for Lee, now hes old and not worth it. LMBO!!!!!!!

    @ whoever said Blanton is the best 5 in baseball. I can name about 18 better. He was signed as a 2, remember? Behind hamels? Brett Myers was gone, Moyer was 60, and they signed Blanton. They had to sign 4 aces, BECAUSE BLANTON KENDRICK AND MOYER, DIDNT GET IT DONE! (Love Moyer by the way) Kyle Kendrick has almost identical numbers for 1/25th less money thats why if its KK or Joe, Kyle is the smart move. Kyle didnt give up runs in 23 of 27 1st innings hence play comeback every game. Granted Blantons 2nd half was better, but even with that stretch HE STILL DIDNT GET HIS ERA UNDER 6.00 UNTIL AUGUST! He is a 5 inning pitcher, he leaves with 8 hits 4 runs, 4 walks, and 2 homers a game. He was awful last year, AND HE STILL HAD THE HIGHEST SUPPORT IN THE LEAGUE!! On any other team, he wins 3 games and loses 14. If he turns it around, and earns that big check, ok im for it. But what I saew, EVERY GAME, not short memory mind you, I am content with Vance Worley or KK over Joe, save the 17 mil, sign a right handed bat. Im not ripping Joe, its just truth. Any doubts, go cross reference Blanton and Kendrick and Adam Eaton, numbers are ALL IDENTICAL

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