Cliff Let met the Philadelphia media today just a few hours after passing his physical and signing his 5-year $120 million deal with the Phillies. He began by saying he never wanted to leave.
"From the moment I got here, I knew it was something special…getting a chance to be part of this team was a no-brainer". It feels great to land back in Philly….I never wanted to leave in the first place"
He also admitted that the lure of the National League helped draw him to Philadelphia, "I prefer National League baseball over the American style of baseball," said Lee. "I like to hit. I like to face the other pitcher instead of the DH."
Lee said the Phillies had not been major contenders for his services until the very end. "This kind of developed in the last 4 or 5 days" he said. He indicated that there had been some preliminary talks early in the free agency period but until the very end he as facing a decision between only the Rangers and Yankees. Lee said of the Phillies involvement, "I was always hoping that was a possibility but I didn’t know how much of a possibility it was."
Phillies GM Reuben Amaro followed up that question saying that the team felt the deal was dead until Cliff, his wife, and agent came to the Phillies and indicated that Philadelphia was where they wanted to be. That motivated the Phillies to get back involved in the process and ultimately led to the signing.
Amaro was asked whether if Jayson Werth accepted the contract he was offered, whether it would have precluded their signing of Lee? "Not to slight our former right fielder but we believed this would have a greater impact. I believe in pitching and defense and if this was a choice, then I’m pretty comfortable with the decision we made"
Speaking of Werth, Cliff Lee said "When he found out I was coming here, he wasn’t the happiest person in the world is all I’ll say."
Lee was asked what it was about Philadelphia that was so attractive to he and his family, "The intensity you can feel when you get in the game. Every game has an excitement to it. I don’t know what the fans do to create that much more volume and excitement but there’s something extra here. They don’t need the teleprompter to tell them to get excited. The feeling of playing on the field feels different than anywhere else."
Lee said that his family’s love of Philadelphia when they were here was a big part of the reason he decided to come back. "We decided that this is where we were going to be the happiest and where we had the best chance to win" he said.
He concluded, "Hopefully this is where I end my career."