Could Lee Be Back in Texas?

For folks who were Texas Rangers fans before the 2010 World Series, it's hard to forget the greatness that was Cliff Lee in a Rangers uniform, even if it was only for a few months.

Jon Daniels pulled off arguably the biggest trade in Rangers history in early July, beating the 2010 trade deadline and the New York Yankees in acquiring ace pitcher Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Justin Smoak.

Lee, of course, went on almost single-handedly win the ALDS with two victories over the Tampa Bay Rays as well as scoring a big win over the Yankees in the ALCS before the Rangers ran into a pitching buzzsaw in the San Francisco Giants and losing in five games.

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Now, there's talk Lee could be back on the trade market after he made what he called a tough decision between Texas and Philadelphia and ultimately choosing to return to the Phillies, where he had pitched before they dealt him to the Mariners.

It's a long shot that the Phillies would trade Lee, who's under team control through the 2016 season, which has a club option. If you remember, Lee took a shorter-term deal with the Phillies instead of the six years offered by the Rangers. It's been reported by CBS Sports that Lee could be a backup plan for the Rangers if they can't work out a deal for Lee's Philly teammate Cole Hamels or Milwaukee Brewers starter Zack Greinke.

Lee is about to be 34 years old, so he's probably on his way out as far as prime years go, but he's still a highly respected pitcher who could front the club's starting rotation for the next three years. So far this season, Lee has a 3.72 ERA with his always-grand strikeout-to-walk ratio of 106 to 22. Yet, he has one of the more odd pitching records in recent history with a 1-6 record on a bad team.

Still, to have that under control for the future would be preferable to having Hamels or Greinke for a few months with no guarantee of the future and no assurance of draft picks in return with the new labor agreement that wasn't in place when the Rangers lost Lee to Philadelphia following the 2010 season.

Whatever happens with Lee, you have to hope the Rangers' front office doesn't let emotion play into the decision in trying to get a figure back in town who went down in Rangers lore forever with his brief stint in Arlington. Daniels & Co. have proven time and time again they won't let that happen.

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