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Rangers Really Wanted Lee

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01: Losing pitcher Cliff Lee #33 of the Texas Rangers looks on from the dugout against the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on November 1, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Cliff Lee

    The Texas Rangers really wanted to keep Cliff Lee after the ace left-hander helped them get to their first World Series.

    Just not enough to guarantee a seventh year for the pitcher, so Lee spurned the American League champions for the other team he went to the World Series with -- the Philadelphia Phillies.

    Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg had this to say on his Facebook page:

    Tonight's news is a letdown, but I'm proud of our effort. Congratulations to Cliff and a heartfelt thank you for the role you played in making history with us. Hope we all see each other again in October. The reigning AL Champions will be ready to defend our title. Who's with us?

    Greenberg said Tuesday, a day after the pitcher's surprise decision, that Lee was willing to remain in Texas.

    "But it would have been a matter of us saying yes on terms that we weren't comfortable with," Greenberg said. "It was on terms we felt went beyond the aggressive parameters within which we were already operating."

    Lee ended up being only a half-season rental in the Lone Star State after the Rangers got him from Seattle.

    As much as he enjoyed his time in Texas, Lee instead is going back to the Phillies, the team he played for in the 2009 World Series, and will join a star-studded rotation with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

    "I was surprised that Philadelphia had come into the picture, because up until that point (Monday) night, I guess I was under the impression that it was between us and the Yankees," team president Nolan Ryan said. "When we didn't hear anything over the weekend, I felt like that maybe he was giving a lot of consideration to coming to us. I was surprised by the news."

    Texas may now turn its attention to trying to acquire 2009 AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke from Kansas City or Matt Garza from Tampa Bay.

    Another possible option is moving AL rookie of the year Neftali Feliz, the hard-throwing righty who set a rookie record with 40 saves, into the rotation with left-hander C.J. Wilson, another former closer-turned-starter who won 15 games, and Colby Lewis.

    General manager Jon Daniels wouldn't get into specifics Tuesday, but said there were already several things that he was and had already been looking into, including pitchers and hitters. He said an internal option for the rotation was possible.

    Rangers officials made three trips to Arkansas in hopes of persuading Lee to return to the team closest to his home state. Managing partner Chuck Greenberg and co-chairman Ray Davis, a pipeline billionaire, presented the pitcher a "menu of multiple options" last Thursday.

    But the Rangers found out late Monday, exactly six weeks after Lee threw his last pitch in Game 5 of the World Series won by San Francisco, that the pitcher was headed east. And not to the New York Yankees.

    One of options from the Rangers reportedly included a guaranteed sixth season.

    "The reports of where we were are pretty accurate out there," Daniels said. "We went as far as we comfortable going on a term standpoint."

    A person familiar with New York's negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Yankees offered Lee $150 million over seven seasons.

    The 32-year-old Lee passed up an extra $50 million and two more years from the Yankees and reached a preliminary agreement on a $100 million, five-year contract with the Phillies on Monday night, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

    After Lee won twice for Philadelphia against the Yankees in the 2009 World Series, the Phillies traded him to Seattle last December.

    Texas acquired Lee in a six-player deal July 9, after it also appeared then that the ace lefty might be headed to the Yankees. The Rangers gave up top prospect first baseman Justin Smoak in the deal.

    When the Rangers acquired Lee, despite bankruptcy proceedings and unsettled ownership at the time, their 5 1/2-game lead in the AL West was the largest in any of baseball's six divisions. They had taken over first place for good June 8, a day after losing to Lee and the Mariners.

    Lee was 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 15 regular-season starts for Texas, which lost five consecutive outings by the lefty in August when he was bothered by a stiff back. He was 12-9 overall for the Mariners and Rangers.

    But he finished strong after an injection in his back. He allowed two hits and one run over eight innings against the Yankees after an extended break, then helped the Rangers reach the first World Series in their 50-season history.

    Lee won the opener and Game 5 clincher in the AL division series against Tampa Bay, the first postseason series ever won by Texas. He then beat the Yankees in the AL championship series before losing twice in the World Series.

    During the playoffs, Ryan, a Hall of Fame pitcher, said he had "never seen anybody have the command on the mound" that Lee had. He was part of the first two visits to see Lee in Arkansas.

    Still, Ryan had expressed his uneasiness of giving any pitcher a contract for six years or more.

    Right-handed reliever Mark Lowe, who was injured when he came with Lee from Seattle, agreed last month to a $1.2 million, one-year deal with Texas.

    The Rangers did offer salary arbitration last month to Lee, knowing he wouldn't accept it. Now that he is signing with another team, they will be compensated with two draft choices next summer.

    AP sports writers Ronald Blum in New York and Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report.