Turning down various rich offers, including one from the Yankees, pitcher Cliff Lee has decided to return to Philadelphia. The Daily News reports, "The Yankees received a call shortly before midnight from [Lee's agent Darek] Braunecker, who informed them that the 32-year-old Lee had decided to leave their seven-year offer for about $148 million on the table. The Yankees had gone up a year after originally offering Lee six years for $138 million."
According to Philly.com, "Lee will receive a deal reportedly worth around $100 million over five years with a sixth-year vesting option." However, Lee's agent hasn't confirmed that. Philly.com's Phil Sheridan says, "Well, this just doesn't happen. Highly coveted free-agent athletes take their talents to South Beach, or sign bank-busting contracts with the Washington Nationals. That's just how it is. And then along comes Cliff Lee. By most reasonable estimates, Lee decided to pay somewhere between $30 million and $40 million for the privilege of returning to pitch for the Phillies."
The Post's Joel Sheridan writes, "I suspect even without Cliff Lee the Yankees will come in with the highest payroll in 2011. But the Phillies and Red Sox are going to be close. The Phillies now have as many players making $20 million or more (Lee, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard) as the Yankees (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia). The Red Sox (assuming Adrian Gonzalez signs an extension after the regular season opener) signed two $140 million-plus deals with Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. With those payrolls, the Phillies and Red Sox also take on the same staggering expectations and, perhaps, target that always befall the Yankees. Already, Vegas has installed the Red Sox and Phillies atop the odds board to win the World Series."