Cliff Lee’s itch for 7th year too much for Rangers
Cliff Lee’s last pitch to the Texas Rangers was too much.
While the Rangers really wanted to keep the ace who helped them
get to their first World Series, they weren’t willing to guarantee
a seventh year on an already extended contract offer for Lee.
”There was a lot of back and forth. There was a point at which
they said if you will do `X’, we would agree to terms,” Rangers
managing partner Chuck Greenberg said Tuesday. ”Those terms went
beyond the parameters that we were comfortable with, specifically
So after having the lefty for half a season, the American League
champions will have to figure out life after Lee, and who can fill
the void at the top of their rotation.
Instead of Texas or the New York Yankees, who were willing to go
to seven years, the 32-year-old Lee is returning to the
Philadelphia Phillies – the team he pitched for in the 2009 World
Series – for a $120 million, five-year deal and to be part of a
”I was under the impression that it was between us and the
Yankees,” Rangers team president Nolan Ryan said.
So was just about everyone else until late Monday.
After finding out the Phillies were also talking to Lee, Texas
refused to go beyond a $136 million, six-year deal with a vesting
option for a seventh year that was among several options they had
already offered the pitcher.
”We went as far as we were comfortable going, probably past
what we were comfortable doing,” general manager Jon Daniels
While retaining Lee was the priority, Daniels said that wasn’t
the only thing he had been working on in the six weeks since the
World Series ended.
”We’re ready to move on,” he said. ”We’ve talked about a
number of different options internally. We’ve had a number of
different discussions with agents and other clubs.”
Daniels wouldn’t get into specifics, but the Rangers could try
to acquire 2009 AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke from Kansas City or
Matt Garza from Tampa Bay.
Another possible option is moving AL rookie of the year Neftali
Feliz, the hard-throwing righty who set a rookie record with 40
saves, into the rotation with left-hander C.J. Wilson, another
former closer-turned-starter who won 15 games, and Colby Lewis.
Other internal possibilities include Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland
and Michael Kirkman.
”No decision has been made now, other than we’re going to look
at it,” Daniels said, adding that might not particularly mean for
2011. ”We can’t ignore that our best options might be here in
The Rangers could also try to get better by bolstering the
offense led by AL MVP Josh Hamilton, who led the majors with a .359
”We have all our financial resources available to us, have all
our prospects available,” Greenberg said. ”While we’re
disappointed we don’t have Cliff, we have a great sense of
anticipation about how we’re going to be able to deploy those
resources to keep getting better, get back where we were and take
the next step.”
Lee helped the Rangers reach the first World Series in their
50-season history. He won the opening and clinching games against
Tampa Bay in the AL division series for Texas’ first-ever
postseason series victory, then beat the Yankees on the road in the
AL championship series.
But he lost both World Series starts against San Francisco,
including the Game 5 clincher for the Giants.
Daniels cautioned that the Rangers don’t intend to ”overpay for
something” moving forward just because they lost Lee.
Texas will be compensated with two draft choices next summer
since Lee is signing with another team after being offered salary
”I’m just excited that the Rangers gave everything they had to
try and make it happen,” Hamilton said. ”I think one of the
factors in his decision was knowing the staff that he would be
going to and joining in, and how good and dominant they possibly
could be. … We hate to lose him, but I think we’ll be all
Greenberg described the Rangers as aggressive but responsible in
their pursuit of Lee. He said the new ownership group didn’t want
to risk putting the franchise ”back in the kind of position it was
in for a number of years” before the new owners finally acquired
the team from Tom Hicks in mid-August.
Deals like the $252 million, 10-year contract Alex Rodriguez
signed in December 2000, though he was gone after the 2003 season,
and the $65 million given pitcher Chan Ho Park for five years
contributed to a series of $100 million annual payrolls for
The Rangers were in bankruptcy proceedings and the ownership was
still unsettled when Lee was acquired from Seattle in a six-player
deal July 9. Texas already had a 5 1/2-game lead in the AL
Five months later, Lee is going back to Philadelphia to join a
rotation that already has Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole
Lee beat the Yankees twice in the 2009 World Series for the
Phillies before they traded him to the Mariners last December, then
”We have a lot of respect for Cliff, (wife) Kristen and the way
they went about the decision,” Daniels said. ”They went to a
place, they had three good offers, from three competitive clubs and
they went to a place that they were comfortable – and part of
potentially a historic-type rotation.”
And at least Lee is in the National League – though one of the
Rangers’ interleague series next season is May 20-22 in
”He’s at a place he obviously wanted to be at,” Texas second
baseman Ian Kinsler said. ”He sent me a text that said great
playing with you, sorry, see you in the World Series. … That
rotation is going to be pretty stout.”