Cliff Lee did not leave a ton of money on the table

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UPDATE:  I somehow missed a Jerry Crasnick tweet on this that said that the Phillies offer had either a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016 or a $12.5 million buyout.  If so, that makes the Phillies deal that much better. In fact, it probably makes it better than the Yankees’ deal in absolute terms as well as average value, depending on what triggers the vesting option. The remainder of below the analysis stands as-is for dynamic, even if some of the specifics are screwy.

9: 44 AM: As LeePocalypse was going down last night, the conventional wisdom was that Lee was going to take substantially less money to go back to Philly than he would have received had he gone to New York.  While the details are still emerging this morning — and while some math is involved and we all hate math — it appears that the Phillies offer was superior in terms of average annual value to that which the Yankees were offering, even if it was a shorter guaranteed deal.

The best information we have right now is that the Phillies will pay Lee $120 million over five years. That breaks down to $24 million a year.  The Yankees guaranteed offer was for six years and $132 million, which is $22 million a year.  Of course there was a $16 million player option on there for 2017, which would make it a $148 million deal over seven years, at just over $21 million a year. For what it’s worth, the Rangers are reported to have offered two deals: a six-year, $120 million offer and a seven-year $138 million offer, though that would have been heavily back loaded.

The key here, obviously, is that under the Phillies deal, he could make a lot more money in year six if things go well for him than he would have if he took the Yankees’ deal, for he will be a free agent in year six rather than be “stuck” with a $22 million one-year deal. If he flames out by year six, sure, he’s out the $22 million he would have made that year plus the player option (and minus any salary he can snag elsewhere). But if he remains a front-of-the-rotation starter, he’s on a presumably inflated market come November 2015.

Ultimately, then, this was less an act of selflessness on Cliff Lee’s part — less an act of giving it up to go back to Philly — than it was a gamble on himself.  If Cliff Lee is worth his contract — and he certainly believes he will be, because that’s how human beings work — he’ll come out ahead for having taken the Philly deal.

If not? Well, then at least he’s the highest paid pitcher in baseball for a good long while, and that ain’t anything to sneeze at.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.