All last night, and for much of today it looked like the New York Yankees had landed the biggest free agent pitcher out there, they still might but they will have to wait until after the season to make there best pitch for him. For now Cliff Lee is a member of the Texas Rangers, and even though it looks like the Rangers may have overpaid for the arm, I think there is a very different way to look at this. For now let us look at the trade details:
•The Texas Rangers get Lee, RP Mark Lowe, and 2.5 million dollars to off set the 4 million owed Lee for the remainder of 2010
•The Seattle Mariners get first baseman Justin Smoak, and three prospects reported to be Pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke, as well as 2B Matt Lawson
That is a big price to pay for a rental player, since Lee will be a free agent at the end of this season. It seems the Rangers may have gutted their farm system in an attempt to win right now. I think the Rangers are trying to prove to everyone in baseball that these are not your typical Rangers, and they may even get a pennant out of this. Adding Lee makes them the favorite to win the AL west, if they were not already, and makes this a team to watch come the playoffs.
The Rangers also have to turn their club into a free agent destination, and adding Lee, plus a good run in the playoffs could go a long way towards doing just that. Teams that have trouble attracting free agents often overpay for the first one, and then reap big rewards later. We have seen this strategy work in other cities, and it is my guess that is why they were willing to over pay for Lee. Of course they would like to resign him, but that is an argument for another day.