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Cliff Lee to Sign with the Phillies

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For those of you who haven\’t heard the news, the Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to the terms of a five-year contract with one Clifton Phifer Lee.  I\’ll repeat that, because it bears repeating: THE PHILLIES HAVE AGREED TO TERMS FOR A FIVE-YEAR CONTRACT WITH CLIFF LEE!  EXCLAMATION POINT!

Reports had been swirling around in the past week or so that, in addition to the Yankees and Rangers, a third dark horse contender was making a run at signing Cliff Lee.  Over the past day or two, those rumors started to indicate that the Phillies might be that third team.  Last night, it was confirmed that Lee is headed back to Philadelphia, despite significantly higher offers from both the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers.

This signing is epic for oh-so many reasons.  First of all, Cliff Lee had already established himself as a Philadelphia fan-favorite after his brief stint with the Phillies in 2009.  Lee was the Phillies\’ sexy summer fling, and it was a great ride while it lasted, but both parties knew there was a good chance they\’d be parting ways at the end of the season.  It was a gloomy day when he was traded to the Seattle Mariners in December 2009, but he never truly left the hearts of the Phillie Phaithful.  Acquiring Roy Halladay eased the pain of Lee\’s departure, but it was hard not to think hypothetically about how good the Phillies could\’ve been if they kept a 1-2 punch of Halladay and Lee.

Now, that dream will become a reality.  In fact, the Phillies will be the first team in quite some time to boast a legitimate 1-2-3-4 punch with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels.  One of the most amazing parts of this signing is that the Phillies most likely won\’t be giving up any portion of its existing H20 trio in order to make it happen.  As a result, we\’ll be fortunate enough to watch one of the most dynamic rotations the league has ever seen.  There will inevitably be a slew of clever pet names for the new rotation (the Fantastic Four? or Phantastic Phour perhaps?), and it\’ll be interesting to see how many games this team can win next year with two of the best righties and two of the best lefties in all of baseball.

The real icing on the cake for this deal is that Lee is passing on a superior offer from the vaunted New York Yankees (and a deal from the less-vaunted Texas Rangers) in order to come back to Philadelphia.  He basically snubbed the Yankees, big time.  That, in itself, will likely push Cliff Lee to folk hero status in Philly, if he hasn\’t already reached that plateau.

And it won\’t just be chump change that Lee is sacrificing to come back to Philadelphia, either.  The Yankees were reportedly offering 7-years and almost $150-million to Lee; the Phillies will be paying approximately $100 million over 5 years with a $20 million vesting option in 2016.

For those keeping track at home, the Phillies starting rotation will now include 2 Cy Young winners (Halladay  twice, Lee), a World Series MVP (Hamels), and two NLCS MVPs (Hamels, Oswalt).  Expect a Sports Illustrated cover sometime in the near future.

Christopher Daly is a Lehigh University graduate, with a focus on computer science and accounting. He has been a dedicated Philadelphia sports fan since birth, with a particularly strong affinity for the Sixers and Phillies. He firmly believes the current success of the Phillies is good karma finally paying off after sitting through a decade of woeful 76ers teams during the '90s.