Philadephia Phillies Sign Cliff Lee, Leave Yankees and Rangers Stunned

Matt BuschCorrespondent IIIDecember 14, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 02:  Starting pitcher Cliff Lee #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the New York Yankees in Game Five of the 2009 MLB World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 2, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 8-6.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

In a late night move, the Philadelphia Phillies steal away Cliff Lee, the most prized pitcher in this year's crop of free agents. In a signing that feels like it is out of a heist movie, I'm half expecting Daniel Ocean to be behind this one.

It comes at a relative bargain for the Phillies. The Yankees had been rumored to have offered Lee over $160 million over seven seasons. The Phillies reportedly have signed Lee for five years, and a $100 million dollars, with a vesting option for a sixth year. 

Cliff Lee was a member of the 2009 Phillies, and nearly pitched them to a second consecutive World Series title. The Phillies ended up losing in six games to the Yankees that year.

The Phillies traded for Roy Halladay last offseason. Lee was then traded to Seattle in the offseason that year, in a move that still puzzles many.

Lee seemed upset after being traded from a contender, to a team that is years away from contending in Seattle.

Philly fans better make sure Leonardo DiCaprio isn't around, because the Phillies dream rotation seems like a scene out of Inception. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels would all be No. 1 starters on most teams in MLB. Yet one of them will be pitching fourth for the Phillies.

The Yankees and Rangers are the big losers in the Lee decision.

The Yankees and Rangers may now turn their attention to possibly acquiring Zack Greinke from the Kansas City Royals. But the price may have just gone up for the 27-year-old former AL Cy Young winner.

The Yankees had already fallen behind the Red Sox, and had hinged their offseason hopes on acquiring Cliff Lee.

The Rangers were attempting to compete with the big market Yankees, but fell short of the mark. They have more options as far as minor league options to possibly make a move for Greinke.

The first and biggest shoe has now fallen for free agent pitchers, and look for the remaining pitchers to start signing soon.