Texas' Lee eyes no-trade clause in next deal
Oft-dealt Rangers hurler desires security in free-agent contract
ANAHEIM -- Cliff Lee is a free agent in the offseason. He's not sure where he will be playing next season, and he's not sure how much he will get paid.But he does know one thing. He wants a no-trade clause.
"I'm going to do everything I can to have that in there," Lee said. "I want to have some control of my life."Lee and his family still live in Arkansas, but he is now with his fourth team over the past 12 months after being acquired by the Rangers in last Friday's six-player trade with the Mariners. Lee has made one start for Rangers, losing to the Orioles on Saturday, but is still representing them at the All-Star Game. It's the fewest games pitched by an All-Star pitcher for the team he is representing. But the Rangers didn't acquire Lee so he can pitch an inning wearing their cap in the All-Star Game. They made the trade because they believe they can win the American League West, they believe he's the big piece missing and they believe he can take them beyond just a division title. Maybe to their first World Series ever. "I'm up for it, let's do it," Lee said. "But I don't think it's all just me. I'm hoping to give the team a chance to win, win some games and make the playoffs. But there is a lot more involved than just starting pitching. It takes a whole team and a group effort, not just one guy. I just hope I have similar success like last year down the stretch. It will be a lot of fun." Lee, after being traded from Cleveland to Philadelphia at the Trade Deadline last year, was 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts for the Phillies down the stretch. He was 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five playoff starts, beating the Yankees twice in the World Series. That's why his new teammates were thrilled when general manager Jon Daniels acquired him on Friday, especially when there were reports that morning that the Yankees were going to get him. "We were really shocked," outfielder Josh Hamilton said. "New York usually gets everybody. We were very excited ... it happened so quickly. Jon Daniels did a great job just making it happen. He's a big piece for us. We had a good team before, and it's a better fit now." Second baseman Ian Kinsler said most important is the message that it sends. "It's a huge message," Kinsler said. "We never made a trade like this before. We wanted to ... the players wanted it. Now we've acquired one of the best pitchers in baseball and it brings a lot of excitement. We were very serious about winning before we got him. Now this shows how serious we are about winning this year." The Rangers, despite ending the first half with a four-game losing streak, have a 4 1/2-game lead in the AL West at the All-Star break. It's the largest lead of any of the six division winners. "We're in a good place," Lee said. "This is a good spot for me. They've already got some good leaders on the team. I just want to do my part." The Rangers would like to keep him beyond this season. They won't have any idea if they'll be able to do that until their ownership situation gets resolved, and that's unlikely to happen anytime soon. But maybe it helps that his home in Little Rock it just a short flight or a few hours drive up I-30 from Dallas. "I don't know ... there are so many ifs and buts," Lee said. "There's no telling who is going to be out there trying to sign me. There are so many variables and unknowns to give you a really good answer." One thing is almost for certain. The Rangers will be more than happy to give him that no-trade clause.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.