Just when it looked like the Cliff Lee sweepstakes were nearing a resolution, a wrench has been thrown into the mix - the Phillies have emerged as a Lee contender. A resolution is still close, but the issue now is far more complicated than it was when we all figured it would come down to Texas or New York.
Ever since the initial report came out naming the Phillies as the mystery team in the Lee negotiations, public statements from baseball people have taken them more and more seriously. Jack Curry notes a belief that Lee will return to Philadelphia. Jon Heyman pegs the Phillies as a "strong candidate". Even though the Phillies can't offer a contract that matches up with those offered by the Yankees and Rangers, Lee so enjoyed his time in Philadelphia that they're being given a chance.
Some choice Lee quotes on his time with the Phillies:
"I loved it there. All my teammates, coaches, the whole situation. I couldn’t have been any more happy."
"I enjoyed my time there. I had as much fun playing baseball there as I ever have in my whole life. So that’s how strongly I feel about it. It was an unbelievable situation, it was a lot of fun, and I loved everything about it.”
If Lee does end up signing with Philadelphia, he will be leaving a lot of money on the table. However, by joining a team with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, he'd be putting himself in excellent position to win his first World Series ring.
Heyman says that a Lee decision could come as early as Tuesday. Safe to say he has a little more to think about than he might've thought he would.