Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg has a theory on why Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies instead of the Yankees — and it has nothing to do with the Bronx fan base he first insulted and then apologized to. Speaking last weekend at a Fan Fest in Arlington, he said the Rangers organization might be responsible.
"We had three different meetings with Cliff and his wife and his agent in Little Rock," he told fans assembled at the Arlington Convention Center, adding that by stretching out the process Texas gave the Phillies a chance to enter the auction.
"Even though Philadelphia was probably not in, they were always in the back of our mind," Greenberg said. "I think if we wouldn't have gone to Arkansas that last time, I think he was going to sign with the Yankees. We pried the door open a little bit to give ourselves another opportunity. And ultimately the Phillies were able to take advantage of that opportunity that we created."
The timeline, at least, works: After the Yankees reportedly upped their offer to include a seventh season, the Rangers presented a number of offers to Lee, though none of them included a seventh year. That was Friday, December 9. That weekend, reportedly, the Phillies gradually increased their offer from three to four to five years, and finally included an option for a sixth. By Monday, Jon Heyman was reporting that a "mystery team," i.e., a team besides the Yankees and Rangers, had entered the mix. And by Tuesday morning, the Phillies had agreed to terms with Lee on a deal.
Still, knowing what we do now — that Lee signed with Philadelphia, and that money wasn't the only thing that factored into his decision — it's hard to imagine Lee would have signed with the Yankees without first fully exploring his options with the Phillies, even if Texas brass didn't stretch out the process by flying to Arkansas. Perhaps the Phillies did indeed take note that Lee was at least listening to the Rangers' offers and realized that it wasn't a sure thing that he'd sign with New York. But here's guessing Lee would have given the Phillies one more chance, regardless.
Rangers CEO: We helped Phillies get Cliff Lee [Philadelphia Daily News]