Left-hander Cliff Lee won't be returning to the Texas Rangers. He has accepted fewer years and fewer dollars to pitch for Philadelphia, the team that traded him away a year ago.
The Rangers got the news around 11 p.m. They had been contacted earlier Monday by agent Darek Braunecker that Lee wanted seven guaranteed years to sign, said two baseball sources, and Rangers officials met into the evening to decide what they would do.
"Let's give the guy some credit. How many people criticize players for running after the last dollar?" general manager Jon Daniels said. "Cliff didn't do that. He made a decision for other reasons, and I have to respect that."
Only late Monday were the Phillies identified as a player for Lee. The Rangers and Yankees had long been regarded as the two front-runners to land him. The Yankees reportedly offered six years with a player option, for a total value of $154 million. A source said the Rangers offered six years with a vesting option. The total package would have been $161 million, but only $138 million was guaranteed.
CEO Chuck Greenberg, who went to Arkansas on Thursday to give Lee a "menu" of options to consider, declined comment late Thursday.
Lee went 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA for the Rangers in 15 starts after he was acquired July 9 in a six-player trade with Seattle. He won his first three starts of the playoffs before losing twice in the World Series, the first Fall Classic in franchise history.
Now, the Rangers will turn their attention to a backup plan for the rotation. Right-handers Zack Greinke and Matt Garza are available via a trade, and the Rangers have talked about moving Neftali Feliz from the closer's role to the rotation. The free-agent pool is headed by righty Carl Pavano.
-- Jeff Wilson