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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  1. Kyle

    December 14, 2010 12:24 AM

    I can’t even think right now. This is just unreal.

  2. css228

    December 14, 2010 12:26 AM

    Failing my IR final here I come

  3. Devin Johnson

    December 14, 2010 12:30 AM

    Unreal and shocked at Cliff decision to rejoin the Phillies, i thinks he became afraid of the big time media and pressure to pick in the pinstrips. Well let’s move on Yankees family, 2011 season still looking promising

  4. joejack293

    December 14, 2010 12:37 AM

    WOW yankees who? look out san fran we got the arms now. as long as we get batting we will be the next back to back winners of the fall classic in a while. mark my words PHILLIES ARE NUMBER ONE AINT NO BETTER NOW

  5. dan

    December 14, 2010 12:38 AM

    This is really something. The yankees finally lost out to the phillies; it doesn’t totally make up for the 09 seriesn but it’s damn close. Great work ruben, kudos.

  6. David

    December 14, 2010 12:39 AM

    No team’s fan base treats Mrs. Lee poorly and gets away with it.

  7. joejack293

    December 14, 2010 12:39 AM

    YOUR CRAZY devin he missed us plus he know who he had a better chance to win it all

  8. Donovan Johnson

    December 14, 2010 12:44 AM

    yes this is amazing the phillies are fantastic

  9. EightE1

    December 14, 2010 12:51 AM

    Repeat after me:

    Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels.
    Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels.
    Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels.
    Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels.

  10. Josh

    December 14, 2010 12:51 AM

    If the Phillies are successful at unloading Joe Blanton, who would be the projected fifth starter? Kendrick?

  11. John

    December 14, 2010 12:57 AM

    Woooo!! Can’t believe it, so stoked!

    But wait, what about the H2O nickname??? How about “Evian”! (L’H2O)

  12. Aaron H

    December 14, 2010 01:04 AM

    I’m hoping that this will also create a great side effect: RAJ dumps Raul for salary sake, forcing Charlie Manuel to make Dom Brown a full time player in the OF and get him the AB reps he needs.

  13. james

    December 14, 2010 01:06 AM


  14. Dan

    December 14, 2010 01:14 AM

    Phantastic Phour, anyone?

    Words cannot describe the awesome of this deal.

    To all the RAJ haters, bow down… now.

  15. Matty B.

    December 14, 2010 01:37 AM


  16. Sean Cunningham

    December 14, 2010 01:48 AM

    @Devin, afraid of pressure and big time media? Yeah, there’s no pressure in Philadelphia. Such a small market, too. Barely any coverage!

  17. Chris Spencer

    December 14, 2010 01:51 AM

    If he finds a taker for Ibanez I’d be so psyched. Get Brown those PAs. Doesn’t really matter who’s in right (or left w/ francisco in right) with this rotation, might as well get the best D possible

  18. Chris Spencer

    December 14, 2010 01:53 AM

    @Devin Johnson: Philly is as demanding, if not more so than New York. We ran a QB who took us to 5 NFC championships and a Super Bowl outta town. I’m more than willing to bet its World Series Champs or bust this year.

  19. Drew

    December 14, 2010 01:57 AM

    Lee came here because he had a strong relationship with the players and the fans. He felt comfortable and u cant ask anything more for an ace pitcher to feel comfortable where he is, this way he concentrates on baseball and not the insane media of NY. The Phillies now have the greatest rotation in Phillies history, and quite possibly the greatest in MLB history. All we need to do is throw in a tomato can in the 5th spot and that will be an upgrade over Blanton. Kendrick is alright, but i think we have some better talent in the farm system we can bring up if need be. Go Phils !!!!

  20. Dan

    December 14, 2010 01:57 AM

    Let the Yankees fans make justifications. This is the first time the Yankees have ever lost out on a player they desired. Let alone the ONLY player they were targeting in the offseason.

  21. Dan

    December 14, 2010 02:00 AM

    I don’t know where the hate from Blanton is coming from. He’s a very serviceable pitcher. By far the best #5 in baseball, in my opinion. Especially in the second half.

    But we are paying him a lot to be our #5, so unloading him would be the smart thing if we can. I also want to see KK moved to the ‘pen, and Worley get some reps in the bigs.

    As long as we have this starting rotation, I say bring up our prospect pitchers to get acclimated to the Bigs with next to zero pressure to actually win.

  22. Bill Baer

    December 14, 2010 02:00 AM

    From @RandyJMiller on Twitter:

    I was told that Cliff Lee was telling Phillies players and coaches at 2010 All-Star Game that he never wanted to leave Philly.

    A good source tells me that Cliff Lee”s wife is the main reason he didn’t sign with Yankees. She wanted NO PART of New York, i was told.

    Apparently incident with Lee’s wife had last fall with Yankees fans wasn’t forgotten. Besides that, she’s not fond of NY. She LOVES Philly.

  23. Cosmo

    December 14, 2010 02:06 AM

    Formaldehyde: Due to its widespread use, toxicity, and flammability, exposure to formaldehyde is a significant risk to human health.

    Chemical formula: CH20

  24. SirAlden

    December 14, 2010 05:40 AM


  25. Scott G

    December 14, 2010 06:24 AM

    I told you the Phillies COULD spend this type of money. Clifton Phifer, baby!

  26. dejesus54

    December 14, 2010 08:30 AM

    Hey, what was wrong with Howell-Combs-de Jesus-Ruffin?

    Seriously, I am concerned with the fact the Phillies are now older than when the season ended (depending on whether you count Moyer or not), and even older than the 1983 Wheeze Kids, with $65M tied up in Halladay, Lee, and Howard (when his extension takes effect) alone, and I hope Worley has a shot at the rotation, and I hope Brown is full-time….but Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Oswalt? Wow…we need our own tomahawk chop now. (Something with tasers?)

  27. Boo-urns

    December 14, 2010 08:40 AM

    “This is the first time the Yankees have ever lost out on a player they desired.”

    That’s not actually true… Greg Maddux jilted them in ’92 in a very similar fashion, taking much less money to sign as a FA with the Braves.

    There are plenty of other examples… they don’t *always* get their man. Unfortunately they *usually* do.

  28. Mike

    December 14, 2010 09:44 AM

    @dejesus: comment of the day. Well done.

    Every time I think that being a Phils fan these days is too good, I think back and count it as reparations for the Jeltzes and Ruffins and Virgils and Ashbys.

  29. Jim Z.

    December 14, 2010 10:21 AM

    While this will definitely be fun to watch for the next year or two, and the Phillies will undoubtedly win the most games in the major leagues next year barring serious injuries, I think that in three or more years, this pitching staff will begin to resemble a retirement home.

    I certainly hope that they can win the World Series next year, because this window is going to slam shut rapidly and forcefully on RAJ’s restless fingers.

  30. dejesus54

    December 14, 2010 12:35 PM

    Quote of the morning: “The Mets’ magic number is now 3.” –Mike Lupica on ESPN 950 (though I think he meant “tragic number”)

  31. CH Phan

    December 14, 2010 01:58 PM

    Aren’t they shopping Blanton to free-up money they’re pretending they so desperately need for Lee’s contract?

    Feels like Amaro’s trying to get the fans off his back signing Lee & in the process making a name for himself as the GM who signed this awesome rotation. But I still don’t get why we needed Lee. Our pitching wasn’t a problem.

    Also I thought they didn’t have the money/yrs for Werth. Now they have it for Lee – a pitcher we don’t really need? Must make Werth feel bad. Way to re-pay a guy. He put in the time & work w/this team; he played well & said he wanted to stay. Okay, we can’t have both Lee & Werth, but we didn’t “need” Lee. Money’s cold comfort.

    Anyway, we have an unbeatable rotation, but we still need to score a run now & then. Don’t we need a rt-hand bat & a lead-off hitter & someone besides Contreras in the bullpen (we can’t expect the supermen starters to play 9 innings every game)?

  32. SfSteve

    December 14, 2010 02:08 PM

    @ joejack293

    How did Lee do against the giants in the Series? I forget.

  33. Rob

    December 14, 2010 02:24 PM

    CH Phan-

    Though I couldn’t be more excited about this, I get what you’re saying about Werth. Even more than Werth, I wonder how Halladay must feel — they probably told him a thousand times they can’t give more than a three year extension, even to the best pitcher in baseball. Now, with this deal and the Yankee’s offer, he sees how much money he left on the table, maybe in the neighborhood of $100m.

    On the other hand, I’m sure Werth is quite satisfied and Halladay is ecstatic to be heading this rotation…

    It’s nice to know that players are willing to take less than market value, ownership is willing to break their budget and the GM is willing to admit (implicitly) that he made a mistake and rectify it. To me, that all says something great about the fans in Philly.

  34. css228

    December 14, 2010 03:44 PM

    @SfSteve… repeat after me… the giants… were… a fluke. They weren’t the best team in baseball, just the hottest team at the time (much like our beloved ’08 Phils). Sometimes teams go on tears where no one can beat them because they’re just playing ridiculous baseball. That’s what happens sometimes. When it does, you tip your hat and move on. But I will warn you not to put too much stock in two postseason games against Lee. The sample is so small its basically irrelevant. So the laws of probability suggest that over time, everyone will regress or proceed to their averages. Its called mean regression. So when players like Ross, Renteria, Huff, and Burrell play outta their mind you can expect them to have a production drop off at some point. Furthermore, when guys like Howard, and Utley, JRoll, Hamels, Lee, and Halladay , you can expect that their future performance will come back towards their average (stellar) play. That my friend, does not bode well for your Giants.

  35. MplsPhilsFan

    December 14, 2010 03:45 PM

    I asked Marcus Hayes this question on a chat this morning, but I do wonder what this signing does for Hamels. He is signed for 2011 and has an arbitration eligible year for 2012. With so many dollars locked up with Halladay, Lee, Howard, etc. will they be able to find room for Hamels. My guess is yes, as Lidge will be off the books in 2011 as will Ibanez (with his full no trade clause I do not see the Phils being able to deal him) so that will free up a lot of cash but there could be some negative long term implications from this signing……

    Ah screw it, who cares about the future, this team should be dominant for the next 2 years which might finally stop the nightmares I still have about the Lance Parrish era of baseball in Philly

  36. css228

    December 14, 2010 03:48 PM

    @MplsPhilsFan I grew up with the last years of the Vet as a kid. Just too young to remember ’93. So thank god that the Francona era is over (less his fault though than the front offices)

  37. KH

    December 14, 2010 04:14 PM

    People have to remember that Oswalt is only guaranteed one more year here when considering this deal. I have a strong feeling there will be one or two years(if the Phillies decide to pick up the option which I am not sure they will) of this rotation. You don’t get many chances to get pitchers this good and if you can you do it I don’t care that we already had three aces. There were a few ways to make this club better. Making the pitching even better is just as viable are replacing Werth imo.

  38. Boo-urns

    December 14, 2010 04:46 PM

    A question no one is asking: they stood firm with Halladay to take a 3-year extension when he wanted longer. I wonder how he feels now that Lee got five years with a solid option for a sixth?

  39. hk

    December 14, 2010 05:08 PM

    Boo-urns, if Halladay stays healthy, he’ll achieve the 4th year vesting option. Also, remember that they signed Halladay a year ago, so they were basically committed to him for five years at that time.

  40. Cutter

    December 14, 2010 05:08 PM

    Halladay knew he was taking a below market extension with the Phillies. It was obvious that he would get more if he became a free agent, but he took less money and years because this is where he wanted to be.

    By doing this, he pretty much assured that other pitchers would later receive bigger deals. I don’t think he’s going to be upset about it. And Halladay certainly doesn’t seem the type to let it bother him.

    As for Werth, unlike the two pitchers, he was not interested in giving the Phillies a discount. The Phillies were never going to give him what the Nats did, so he left.

    It seems that the Phillies felt that their money was better spent on an ace level pitcher than a guy who they seem to consider to be a complimentary part of their lineup.

    My full thoughts on the matter:

  41. css228

    December 14, 2010 11:17 PM

    Nah doesn’t make much sense. Blanton for whatever prospects you can get. Need to dump salary and get younger. So prospects.

  42. Bill Baer

    December 14, 2010 11:22 PM

    The Phillies aren’t going to get any good prospects for Blanton, though. I’d rather get a right-handed outfield bat that can crush lefties — like Cameron — than a C-level prospect or two.

  43. Scott G

    December 15, 2010 12:29 AM

    Subtracting runs (Lee) is essentially equivalent to adding runs and subtracting them (Werth). I’m one of the biggest Werth supporters, and it’s essentially a wash.

    I do however feel like this offense will be brutal this year. The only saving grace will be if Utley and Howard play like we know that can for a full season. Doubt that will happen. Oh yeah, it would be AWESOME if Dom Brown can burst onto the scene.

  44. Atlanta Roofing HQ

    December 15, 2010 02:00 AM

    I am a fan of Cliff. No matter what he does I still expect he can make it. I can’t wait for people to start crying about how the Phillies are trying to buy a World Series, or do they only do that when the Yankees spend a boat load of money?

  45. Scott G

    December 15, 2010 08:37 AM

    The Yankees payroll in 2010 was $206 million. The Phillies this year is at $167 million. That’s a whole Marlins team away from the Yanks

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