By noon yesterday, it seemed like Cliff Lee to the Yankees was a done deal. Five hours later, the Texas Rangers swooped in and nabbed him. While adding Lee to an already strong Yankee rotation would have been fun, losing out on him is more beneficial in the long run. It was also educational. here is what we learned:
The Yankees have faith in Jesus. After news broke that the Yankees were hot on Lee’s trail and willing to trade top prospect Jesus Montero for him, some fans speculated that the organization had lost faith in the catcher. This echoed the sentiment put forth last winter when the Yankees attempted to trade Montero to the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay. The fact that the organization was willing to part with the 20 year-old for players of Halladay and Lee’s caliber is a testament to Montero’s ability.
Other teams have faith in Jesus. The Blue Jays and Mariners have now both scouted Montero extensively, and were likely open to trading their top commodity for him. You know a player has value when his return yields one of the best pitchers in the game. Anyone else find it interesting that the Mariners still wanted Montero, despite his .253 batting average? Scouts see something in him, and while his bat may be more attractive than his glove, he is still a special player. So is David Adams, evidently.
The Rangers will not resign Lee. Texas is currently dealing with some serious financial woes, and there is no chance that they can sign him to a contract extension during or after the season. On that same hand, why would Lee want to sign with Texas? Unless he has an extraordinarily good time, is comfortable with giving the Rangers a bargain and loves pitching in Arlington, expect him to become a free agent.
The Yankees are serious about adding Lee. The mere act of offering a prospect like Jesus Montero (and Adams) for Lee demonstrates how badly the Yankees want to have him in the rotation. Now, some have argued that Brian Cashman was simply trying to drive up the Mariner’s asking price, but I think the Yankees were serious. Why else would they allegedly give the Mariners a “take it or leave it” offer? Although the baseball world has already come to this conclusion, it seems fairly certain that the Yankees will simply hand Lee a blank check this winter.
So, unless the Rangers beat the Yankees in the ALCS, this situation worked out in the best possibly way. The Yanks were able to keep two of their better prospects, Lee went to a team that probably won’t resign him and Brian Cashman can now focus on adding a bat and some relief arms.