Cliff Lee: Why choose the Phillies over the Yankees and Rangers?

Cliff Lee finally made his choice of team known on Monday. The Phillies quietly made their offer and waited, along with the Yankees and Rangers, for Cliff Lee to come to a decision.

Mike Segar/Files/Reuters
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee works against the San Francisco Giants during Game 5 of the World Series in Arlington, Texas in this November 1 file photo. Lee will reportedly sign a new contract with the Phillies.

For major league baseball players, in the end, it's usually all about the cash.

But this time, it may be more about the ring.

After losing the World Series this fall with the Texas Rangers, Cliff Lee has apparently decided his next best chance is with one of his former teams, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Reports say Lee has agreed to a five-year, $100 million deal with the Phillies, with an option for a sixth year. He walked away from two bigger offers from the Yankees and the Texas Rangers.

Instead, he's rejoining a team he played for once before.

Lee was obtained by the Phillies from the Indians in 2009 and helped Philly reach the World Series that season. But much to his chagrin, Lee was traded by Philadelphia last December to make room for Roy Halladay, who won the National League Cy Young with the Phillies this past season.

Lee must have been tempted by the offers from both the Yankees, reportedly a seven-year package worth a total of $148 million, and the Rangers, who tried to creatively craft a new multimillion dollar deal with the lefthander.

The Yankees might have the hardest job, considering the rude treatment Lee's wife and other Rangers fans received at Yankee Stadium this fall during the American League Championship Series. She told USA Today, "The fans did not do good things in my heart ... When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it's hard not to take it personal."

It's the first time in recent memory that the New York Yankees have been turned down like this.

The Rangers had the benefit of being the closest major league franchise to Lee's offseason home in Arkansas. But it appears Lee was persuaded by the opportunity to pitch in perhaps baseball's best starting rotation next season. The Phillies will have the past two National League Cy Young award winners in Lee, who won it in 2009, and Halladay. 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels and innings-eater Roy Oswalt, who has averaged 15 wins a year over his ten seasons, round out manager Charlie Manuel's starting staff.

Of course, Lee will still be well paid – with an average yearly salary of over $20 million – and that helps make the "City of Brotherly Love" very attractive.

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