NEW YORK (AP) — Cliff Lee and the Phillies have finalized a $120 million, five-year contract that brings the star pitcher back to Philadelphia.
Lee spurned more lucrative offers from the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers to return to the Phillies, who traded him away a year ago after he helped them reach the 2009 World Series.
Baseball’s hottest free agent could have had $150 million and a spot on the biggest stage in the game with its most successful team — the Yankees, winners of 27 World Series.
Instead, the star pitcher got up from the table and left $30 million behind.
The Phillies deal was reached late Monday night, and was announced Wednesday after Lee passed a physical. Lee will be introduced at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.
The two-time All-Star and 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner helped the Rangers reach their first World Series this year. He chose to rejoin the Phillies and combine with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels to form a dynamic starting rotation. He will wear No. 33.
The 32-year-old Lee will earn a modest $11 million salary next season. Including an option for 2016, the deal could be worth $135 million for six seasons, according to contract information obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.
Lee was 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA in 28 combined starts last season between the Seattle Mariners and Texas. He led the Rangers to their first postseason series victory with a pair of wins against Tampa Bay in the first round, and tossed a two-hitter against the Yankees in the ALCS. But Lee lost twice to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.
This will be the fourth time Lee changes uniforms in the last 17 months. He was traded from Cleveland to Philadelphia to Seattle to Texas. He finally was able to choose his destination, and he took less money to return to the Phillies.
A fourth-round selection by the Montreal Expos in the 2000 draft, Lee is 102-61 in his major league career with a 3.85 ERA in 222 games. He’s 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA and three complete games in 10 postseason starts with 80 strikeouts in 76 innings.
The addition of Lee gives the Phillies a dream rotation. The Phillies’ top four starters have three Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star game appearances, two NLCS MVP awards, one World Series MVP award, one perfect game and one postseason no-hitter on their resumes.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.