THERE ARE at least a couple reasons why the Phillies traded Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners in the triangular transaction that fetched Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays instead of keeping both former Cy Young Award winners to form a super-rotation.
One, obviously, was money. By moving Lee's $9 million and getting the Jays to kick in $6 million, they pretty much offset Halladay's $15.75 million base salary for 2010 and keep their payroll around $140 million.
Another is that this is just what the Phillies do. Club president Dave Montgomery has been consistent on this point. The goal is to try to be one of the final eight teams and then hope to get hot during the postseason.
Finally, it was done to bring in prospects from Seattle (righthanders Phillippe Aumont and Juan Ramirez plus outfielder Tyson Gillies) to help replace the young talent (righthander Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and catcher Travis D'Arnaud) that the Phillies are handing over to Toronto (with Taylor flipped to Oakland for infielder Brett Wallace).
It has already become part of the collective consciousness that another factor was Lee making it clear he intended to test the free-agent market at the end of the season. So when the Phillies had the opportunity to wrap up Halladay through 2013 with a 3-year extension worth around $60 million, they chose not to take a chance on having Lee walk at the end of the season.
And that, said agent Darek Braunecker, simply isn't true.
"He said that last year to the Indians and that was exclusive to Cleveland. He never indicated that to the Phillies," Braunecker said in a phone conversation yesterday, adding that the common perception is a "mischaracterization" of their negotiating position.
"We were having conversations that I think both sides would characterize as encouraging, until something came along that was completely out of our control. Which was Halladay's willingness to accept a deal," he said.
"What's kind of been conveyed is that something along the lines that Cliff was making exorbitant demands that made it impossible for him to stay in Philadelphia. I wouldn't want people to say that he was greedy. We weren't far enough along to formulate a position. Cliff's desire all along was to work out a deal long term. He loved it there. It was his desire and intent to stay. Then things changed that were beyond our control."
That's all hindsight at this point. A source with direct knowledge of the situation said yesterday that the only remaining hurdle is for all the players involved to pass their physicals, which is expected to be a formality.
Major League Baseball has become adamant recently about players involved passing physicals before trades are formally completed in an effort to avoid possible grievances or even voided trades after they've been announced.
Last week during the winter meetings in Indianapolis, word of each deal leaked a day or more before it was officially announced.
The Blue Jays, for example, would have to make arrangements to have Drabek, D'Arnaud and Wallace examined either in Toronto or their spring training base in Dunedin, Fla. Lee presumably would have to go to Seattle or Phoenix from his Arkansas home. Taylor would need to be examined by the Athletics. Indications are that Halladay, who has been in town all week, has been cleared by the Phillies medical staff.
The transaction could become official as early as today.
One example of the gap between the time a deal is executed and the moment when it's announced is pinch-hitter Ross Gload. It became widely known during the winter meetings last week that he'd been signed by the Phillies. It wasn't until yesterday, though, that the team conceded that Gload has agreed to a 2-year, $2.6 million deal.
Gload, 33, batted .261 for the Marlins last season with six home runs and 30 RBI in 125 games. As a pinch-hitter, the lefthanded batter led the majors with 21 hits and tied for the lead with 15 RBI while batting .318.
The Phillies yesterday announced six new coaches and managers as part of a minor league reorganization.
Mark Parent, who spent the final two seasons of his big-league career with the Phillies in 1997-98, will manage Class A Lakewood. Jorge Velandia will be a coach at Class A Williamsport and Lance Carter will be the pitching coach. They replace Bobby Meacham and Tom Filer.
Chuck Hernandez and Donnie Sadler will be coaches for the Gulf Coast (Rookie) League Phillies. Steve Henderson will be the minor league coordinator for outfield and baserunning instead of Jerry Martin.
Dusty Wathan, who managed Lakewood last season, will take over for Ernie Whitt at Clearwater. Whitt will become the roving minor league catching instructor.