Monday night, we have word of a resolution to the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. And after so many months of assumptions that Lee would either re-sign with the Rangers or go to the Yankees, the 32-year-old free agent ace southpaw is instead signing with the Phillies, who emerged as a late contender.
T.R. Sullivan was the first with the news, and it has since been confirmed by Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman. The Rangers and Yankees now have to look for alternatives elsewhere. The Rangers could turn to Matt Garza or Zack Greinke, while the Yankees may simply focus on addressing their bench and their bullpen.
But the big story here is the Phillies, who have locked Cliff Lee up to a five-year contract after never being taken seriously as contenders until late Monday. It's unclear exactly how they intend to fit Lee into their budget, and they may simply increase payroll to make room, but what matters is that an agreement is in place. No matter how it works out, next season's Phillies will sport a starting rotation of Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and someone else. It's a rotation that has the potential to be the best starting rotation in modern baseball history.
The Yankees' final contract offer to Lee was worth a total of $154 million, and he will be leaving a lot of money on the table. Lee, however, loved his time in Philadelphia in 2009, and is now in excellent position to win the first World Series ring of his career.
Just an absolute shocker of a move that changes the AL - and NL - landscape completely. Be sure to check out The Good Phight for a lot more on the story.