Cliff Lee will not be a Yankee after all. He will be a Texas Ranger, Newsday has confirmed, in a deal that rocked the baseball world.
The Mariners sent lefty ace Lee to the Rangers for a package centered around first-base prospect Justin Smoak. The Mariners will send the cash-strapped Rangers about $2.5 million to help pay for the roughly $4 million remaining on Lee's deal.
The Mariners also acquired righthanded pitcher Blake Beavan, reliever Cory Lueke and outfielder Matthew Lawson.
The Yankees began the day thinking they had Lee - whom they still seem likely to sign as a free agent during the offseason - for a package featuring three minor-leaguers: catcher Jesus Montero, infielder David Adams and pitcher Zach McAllister. But the Mariners grew nervous about Adams' ankle injury and the Rangers sweetened their offer to include Smoak.
Newsday confirmed earlier in the day that the Yankees were on the verge of acquiring Lee. A resolution was expected by Friday night, when Lee was scheduled to pitch for Seattle against the Yankees.
As first reported by the New York Post, the centerpiece of the Yankees' package would have been Montero. Doubts persist about whether he can catch in the major leagues, but there is little doubt that the 20-year-old can hit well enough to carry any position.
Although the Yankees have been very satisfied with their starting rotation, they have always loved Lee, who is 31. He has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, with an 8-3 record, a 2.34 ERA, 89 strikeouts and six walks in 1032/3 innings and five complete games. He pitched a complete game in beating the Yankees, 7-4, on June 29.
Lee won the American League Cy Young Award with Cleveland in 2008 after going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA. After being traded to the Phillies, Lee beat the Yankees twice in the 2009 World Series. The Phillies traded him to the Mariners during the offseason after acquiring Roy Halladay.