Going back to Philly: Cliff Lee chooses Phillies over Yankees and Rangers

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Wow. In one of the most surprising free agent signings in a long time, Cliff Lee has turned down longer, more lucrative offers from both the Yankees and Rangers to return to the Phillies.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Lee’s deal is worth approximately $100 million for five seasons. Obviously that’s far from chump change, especially if reports about a vesting sixth-year option are accurate, but it’s significantly less than the Yankees’ reported final offer of as much as $154 million over seven years.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has a policy against speaking about free agent negotiations and somehow managed to remain under the radar until tonight, when rumors began swirling that the Phillies were the “mystery team” Jon Heyman of SI.com had been speculating about without knowing (or at least revealing) their identity.

Sure enough, Amaro swooped in and now Lee re-joins a pitching staff with fellow aces Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels for what has a chance to be one of the best rotations of all time.

Lee spent a half-season with the Phillies in 2009, going 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 regular season starts and dominating in five playoff outings as the team fell to the Yankees in the World Series. He was under contract for another season, but Amaro traded him to the Mariners for prospects last December 16 and filled his spot atop the rotation with Halladay.

Lee repeatedly spoke about enjoying his time in Philadelphia, but with the Phillies seemingly having little payroll room to get into a bidding war for him after adding Oswalt’s hefty contract at midseason the Yankees and Rangers emerged as the presumed favorites. Turns out, Amaro was doing his work without leaking any information to the media and Lee was shockingly willing to leave as much as $50 million on the table to return to Philadelphia.

Nationals award World Series shares to scouts and minor league personnel

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports some good news: the Nationals have chosen to include scouts and minor league personnel as part of the group receiving World Series shares for the 2019 season. Manager Dave Martinez said it’s the first time he’s heard of such a thing happening.

The full postseason shares were announced last month. The Nationals players’ pool was in excess of $29 million. Obviously, adding such a large group of people reduces the average share for everyone else, but it is a significant bonus for the scouts and minor league personnel. We have noted many times here that an unnecessarily high percentage of minor leaguers — as well as many ancillary workers for minor league teams — don’t make a living wage. This bonus could mean someone is able to make rent, buy groceries, or buy their kids holiday gifts.

Really classy move on the Nationals’ part. Hopefully it becomes standard practice. Or, better yet, hopefully it becomes standard practice to simply pay minor leaguers and associated staff a fair wage.