On Monday night, it was Cliff Lee himself who called Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. Lee who broke the news personally, telling Daniels that he would not be re-signing with Texas, and he would not be leaving for New York.
Lee was going back to Philadelphia, and leaving money on the table to do so.
“People rag on players for following that last dollar,” Daniels told MLB.com. “Cliff didn’t do that. I have a lot of respect for him.”
This was Lee’s free agent market. No available starting pitcher approached his combination of talent and track record, and any team in baseball would be interested at the right price. Lee, it seems, simply decided where he wanted to pitch and made sure he got there.
Counting a vesting option in the Rangers offer, Tim Brown reports that Texas actually offered more money than the Yankees. Of course, the Yankees offer was no small amount.
None of which mattered in the end. Lee picked a team, not a contract. It was a positively stunning turn of events, and what comes next for the Yankees will be fascinating.
Talk about a mystery team.