Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Cliff Lee landed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night and explained his decision to sign with the Phillies over two teams that offered him more money.
The team, the atmosphere, the fans and his family’s fondness for the city were all factors in his decision to shun the Yankees and Rangers and re-join the team he helped lead to the World Series in 2009.
“There’s a lot of pros and not many cons when you start weighing things out,” Lee told a TV reporter from Philadelphia who met him at the airport.
The free-agent lefthander said he was excited to be back and ready to finalize a deal with the Phillies that is reported to be for five years and $120 million with a vesting option for another year.
The deal, although not officially announced by the team, is expected to be finalized on Wednesday.
Lee spent the last few months of the 2009 season in Philadelphia, leading the Phillies to their second consecutive World Series appearance.
But he was traded to Seattle for prospects in December — the Phillies got a new No. 1 ace in Roy Halladay — and later dealt to the Rangers.
He pitched in another World Series, losing again when Texas was defeated by the San Francisco Giants.
“You gotta move on and adapt to what happens,” Lee said, explaining his reaction to being dealt by the Phillies. “I enjoyed my time in Seattle, I enjoyed my time in Texas. Looking back, I’m kind of glad. I got to go back to the World Series.”
The Phillies, already the four-time defending NL East champions, will have a starting rotation that features Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels at the top.
Is it the best rotation in major league history?
“Potentially. It could be,” said Lee, who won the 2008 AL Cy Young award pitching for Cleveland. “But it’s a little premature to say. You have to let things play out.”
Lee, 32, went a combined 12-9 with a 3.18 earned run average in 28 starts with Seattle and Texas last season. He also finished with a career-best seven complete games and was instrumental in guiding the Rangers to their first World Series appearance.
The Phillies acquired him from Cleveland on July 29, 2009, and he went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA and three complete games in the last three months of the regular season.
Lee was the winning pitcher in both of Philadelphia’s victories in a six-game loss to the Yankees in the 2009 World Series.
He has a 102-61 record with a 3.85 ERA and 20 complete games in 222 appearances (218 starts) over nine major league seasons.