Cliff Lee Says Yankees Were His Third Choice, Getting Too Old
When the 2010 offseason got underway in October, the Yankees had a clear-cut priority: sign Cliff Lee. New York’s rotation is rock solid at the top with C.C. Sabathia, but they could have used another ace as insurance for the erratic A.J. Burnett. Yankees fans had grown so accustomed to Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenners getting their guy that they were stunned when Lee signed with the Phillies. As it turns out, New York finished third in the race for the biggest prize on the free agent market.
“Texas probably finished second to be honest with you,” Lee said. “Just as far as the quality of the team and the chance to win a World Series ring, I think they’re a better team. That’s just my opinion. The Yankees can do anything at any moment to improve and they’re not afraid to go do things. That was part of the decision making process too, but I felt like with what the Red Sox had done and it seems like some of the Yankee guys are getting older, but I liked the Rangers.”
The major flaw in Lee’s reasoning would have to be that the Phillies are the oldest team in baseball, based on average age on their roster. The Yankees are ninth in that category, but Lee’s logic is somewhat valid. The Yankees’ cornerstones — Derek Jeter (36) and Alex Rodriguez (35) — are entering the back ends of their careers while the Phillies’ — Ryan Howard (31), Jimmy Rollins (32) and Chase Utley (32) — are still in their primes. Of course, New York has youth on its side with guys like Sabathia (30) and Robinson Cano (28), but in reality Lee probably just wanted to join a team that could have the best pitching rotation of all-time.
Whatever the case, Lee’s decision and his comments explaining it are a friendly reminder that not everyone wants to play for the New York Yankees.