PEORIA, Ariz. --
By all rights, Lee should have a big-league-sized chip on his talented left shoulder following two rejections he neither earned nor deserved. Lee received no contract offer at all from the Indians following his dominating 22-3 Cy Young season in 2008. Then one year later, after being the most overpowering pitching force in the 2009 postseason for the Phillies following his July trade from Cleveland, he was dealt yet again, this time on the very day he presented the Phillies a counteroffer to their preliminary three-year extension offer.
"I have no hard feelings,'' Lee said about the trade from Philadelphia to Seattle that originally shocked him (though he did have one complaint -- more on that later). "I really can't blame them for wanting
Lee appears to be a bigger part of the plan in Seattle. Mariners GM
"So far I like it a lot,'' Lee said. "Obviously, free agency is where you want to be as a player ... I'm not going to rule anything out.''
The guess here is that Lee finally finds a match in the Mariners after the small-market Indians decided against offering big bucks to Lee, and the Phillies never lost their long-term infatuation with Halladay. With Halladay unhappy in Toronto and known to want to come to the Phillies or Yankees, and the Blue Jays believed still somewhat hesitant to trade their superstar pitcher within the division, the Phillies correctly surmised that they were in the drivers seat for Halladay, the pitcher they loved best and who also wanted most to be there. So the Phillies' contractual offer to Lee -- what he described as "close'' to the $60-million, three-year extension they eventually gave Halladay -- was apparently only a prelude to the real negotiation between the Phillies and Halladay.
"It was kind of strange,'' Lee said. "I was willing to negotiate, to work something out. I thought we were in the process of doing that. In the middle of that, I got traded.''
While the Phillies had their sights set on Halladay, Lee's agent,
Of course, the Phillies had other ideas. GM
Anyway, while Amaro was doing his wheeling and dealing, Lee said he assumed he was the only one in negotiation with them. According to Lee and Braunecker, Braunecker received word from Phillies people that they indeed intended to try to sign him, then further word from Phillies people not to believe mounting news reports suggesting Halladay was on the verge of being acquired in a trade that would send Lee 3,000 miles away.
Regardless, at some point Braunecker became convinced the reports were accurate. Yet, he still presented a counteroffer just in case. That counteroffer came just before the initial reports were confirmed to Braunecker and Lee by the Phillies.
"That's the only thing that bothered me, being misled on the Halladay situation,'' Lee said. "But I understand. It's a business.''
Amaro doesn't wish to rehash the past. Amaro said, "Cliff Lee is a Mariner. I wish him well and will no longer answer questions about him.''
The business part of baseball could actually turn out to be a blessing for Lee, who came to Seattle for three top prospects and appears very much appreciated by Zduriencik, who at 59 is a rising new star himself. The second-year GM told Lee to look around first, and see whether he likes Seattle, which could be a culture shock for an Arkansan. Though, Lee has adapted well both to the Midwest and East, and friends say 1) he is so focused on baseball it doesn't matter where he is, and 2) if he does, he'll like the outdoorsy aspect of Seattle. Lee himself said Seattle was one of his favorite cities to visit in his years in Cleveland.
"We'll let Cliff get comfortable and see what happens. He's going to have to want to stay,'' said Zduriencik, who also tried to get Halladay last winter but was informed by then-Jays GM
Lee said he already likes the feel of the Mariners clubhouse, and he's throwing in camp and isn't limited by the minor surgery he had on his left foot last month. "So far, so good,'' he said. He's taking it slowly, just as Zduriencik advised. You'll excuse Lee if he doesn't grow too attached too soon.
The Diamondbacks, fresh of their $51.25 million, six-year deal with rising star
The sides are said to remain a bit apart, as Reynolds is seeking a deal similar to the $18-million, two-year deal
Some figured Reynolds, a 16th-round draft choice who's yet to make $1 million in total, might want to jump at the security. But Reynolds said, "I'm happy to make a commitment, but arbitration isn't such a bad thing. I'm not looking to break the bank. But at the same time, I want a fair deal.''
Upton seems quite pleased with his deal, and he said his older brother
The Upton deal is the second highest in Diamondbacks history, behind only the $52.4 million given to
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