The prodigal son returned. Jon Heyman had been reporting that a mystery team had been in on Cliff Lee and it wasn’t the two horse race, between the Yankees and Rangers that many had thought it was. Some believed Heyman; others thought he was just trying to make a story out of nothing.
Then slowly news started leaking on December 13th that perhaps the Phillies were the mystery team. Then more tweets started coming. The Phillies were the mystery team (right). Before you know it, the Delaware Valley was collectively hitting refresh on their Twitter feeds until finally the news had broke: Cliff Lee was coming back to Philadelphia.
I believe my tweet after reading the news was, “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH IT’S THE PHILLIES!! JAAAAAAAAAAAADF!”
After that, the question became what was the deal worth, how much had the Phillies given the best pitcher on the market to build the world’s greatest starting rotation.
At first, it looked like Lee had left tons of money on a table that we are still trying to locate, however after the fine print was read, it turned out that Lee was actually going to make a little more per year in Philadelphia. The deal has a guaranteed $120 million over five years, and if Lee pitches in 200 innings in 2015, or 400 innings over the course of 2014-2015, he will earn a $27.5 million dollar option that will bring the deal to $135 million over six years.
Upon his exit when traded to Seattle, Lee was hurt and upset and for good reason. His family loved it here, the fans loved him, and most importantly he himself loved it here. Lee had told his agent this is where he wanted to be. And damn it, he is back.
We are now just weeks away from a starting rotation of reigning Cy Young winner Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton. While Blanton certainly doesn’t fit into that group, he’s arguably the best number five in baseball.
Welcome back, Cliff.