The Final 'Leep': Lee to Texas

Metszilla.comCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2010

HOUSTON - JUNE 20:  Justin Smoak #12 of the Texas Rangers doubles in the second inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 20, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

It has been a rough couple days for sports fans in New York.   A day after Lebron decided to decided to spurn the Big Apple for South Beach, the Mariners have denied both the Mets and Yankees of Cliff Lee‘s services, choosing instead to trade him to the Texas Rangers.

It appears as if this really did play out like a soap opera as several sources had stated this morning that Lee was heading to the Yankees for a package centered about prized catching prospect Jesus Montero and David Adams.  Much to the Yankees’ dismay and utter irritation, this was not the case.  Instead, Texas made a last minute push and topped New York’s offer, reluctantly giving up first baseman Justin Smoak, RHP Blake Beavan, LHP Josh Lueke and second baseman Matt Lawson.

According to Joel Sherman and George King of the New York Post, this is how things played out this afternoon:

late Friday morning, the Mariners expressed concern about Adams, a Double-A second baseman currently on the disabled list with a high ankle sprain. The Mariners asked the Yankees to substitute Single-A righty Adam Warren. The Yankees agreed. But after more time elapsed, Seattle came back and also asked for touted shortstop prospect Eduardo Nunez.The Yankees had balked at Seattle’s demands for Montero and Nunez weeks ago, and told the Mariners “No” again. At this point, the Yankees figured Seattle was simply stalling because it had another option, which turned out to be accurate.

The Rangers initially refused to include prized first baseman Justin Smoak, but with the Yankees on the verge of obtaining Lee, Texas blinked.

The Mariners accepted a package of Smoak and three other prospects for Lee and reliever Mark Lowe with the Seattle agreeing to pay $2.5 million of Lee’s approximately $5 million remaining salary for the cash-strapped Rangers.

The Yankees are apparently not happy with the way the Mariners went about using them to get the best offer they possible could (those bastards), as Sherman quotes one Yankee official as saying:

The Yankees do not do business that way, when we say something is a deal, it is a deal. Yes, this is frustrating and disappointing.”

As for the Rangers, they add Lee to the front of a beleaguered rotation that currently includes Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, Scott Feldman, and Tommy Hunter (Rich Harden is currently on the DL).  The need for a front line starter was great for Texas, but so too was the price they paid to get him.  Justin Smoak was ranked their #2 prospect coming into the year by baseball America and has made good on his power potential, hitting 8 home runs in his first 235 big league at-bats.

Blake Beavan, a 2007 first-round pick, has more than held his own as a 21-year old at Double-A this season and has the upside to at least be a name that is not forgotten when this trade is analyzed down the road.

In the end the price was just to high for Omar Minaya and the Mets.  Offers from the Twins, Reds, and Yankees (let alone Texas) seemed to cause the Mets to turn their attention to Ted Lilly earlier in the day.  One can only hope that, with a head start, New York has a leg up on the competition and strikes sooner than later this time around.

Giving up Smoak is arguably equivalent to the Mets giving up on Ike Davis, a scenario few fans wished to see unfold. Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make and it appears as though Seattle had every intention of waiting and using whatever tactics necessary to get a king’s ransom for a few months of their Cy Young award winner.  They ended up receiving just that and now both New York teams as well as every other ‘contender’ around the league is left to see pursue their collective plan ‘B’.