Left-handed starting pitcher Cliff Lee was the most sought out free agent in Major League Baseball this off-season.Â The New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers were thought to be front runners in signing him to a new contract.Â But in what is being called a stunning development, Lee agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, a team he played for during the 2009 season.
In his first career game with the Philadelphia Phillies, Lee pitched a complete game in a 5â€“1 victory. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and had two hits as a batter, including his first career double and a run scored. Through his first five games with the Phillies, Lee amassed a 5â€“0 record, 39 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched, and a 0.68 ERA.
The Yankees and Rangers appeared to be the only 2 teams strongly courting the 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner, with New York offering Lee a 7 year contract worth 150 million dollars and Texas making 3 trips to Lee's hometown trying to convince him to return to Rangers.
Lee decided to return to Philadelphia, taking less money, reported to be 120 million dollars over 5 years.Â Lee now joins Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt in what has to be considered the best starting pitching rotation in Major League Baseball history.Â The move now makes Philadelphia the odds on favorite to win it all in 2011.
Cliff Lee photo courtesy of FOX SPORTS
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