Another former Philadelphia Phillies ace pitcher is reportedly set to announce his retirement as a player.
The agent for left-hander Cliff Lee, who last pitched in a big league game on the exact date of the MLB trade deadline in 2014, commented to MLB insider Ken Rosenthal on Tuesday that the career of the former AL Cy Young Award winner is at an end.
Lee pitched for the Phillies over the final four seasons of his 13-year career in Major League Baseball.
In 2011, Lee made up part of the “Four Aces” rotation with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, a group that led the team to a Phillies franchise-record 102 regular season victories.
In his time with the Phils, Lee compiled a 48-34 record with a 2.94 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP. He allowed 777 hits in 827.1 innings, with an 813/124 K:BB ratio. He was an NL All-Star with the team in both 2011 and 2013.
Lee finished 3rd in the 2011 NL Cy Young Award race, with Halladay finishing 2nd and Hamels finishing 5th. Lee also finished 6th in the 2013 Cy Young voting.
The lefty first came to the Phillies in a big 2009 trade deadline deal with the Cleveland Indians along with outfielder Ben Francisco in which the Phils sent four prospects to the Tribe, one of whom, pitcher Carlos Carrasco, remains in the big leagues.
He helped the club win a 2nd straight NL pennant, but the team lost the World Series in six games to the New York Yankees.
In December of 2009, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. infamously dealt Lee away to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for three prospects who never amounted to anything.
Amaro did this in the immediate aftermath of, and on the same day as, a trade to acquire Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Just one year later, Lee surprised the baseball world by agreeing to return to the Phillies, signing as a free agent with the team in December of 2010.
Despite some tremendous individual achievements and the continuation of a run of NL East division crowns that would ultimately extend to five straight, the Phillies never did return to the World Series with Halladay and Lee.
Rosenthal reported the apparent retirement comment in a message sent at his Twitter account earlier this morning:
The same year that the Phillies were winning the World Series, Lee won the 2008 American League Cy Young Award with Cleveland.
That year he fashioned a tremendous 22-3 record. It was by far his best of eight seasons with the Indians.
Lee was limited to 13 starts in the 2014 season by the Phillies due to a strained flexor tendon in his pitching elbow.
He attempted to return last year at spring training, and famously entertained beat reporters with a ‘Magic 8-Ball’ to answer questions at a Clearwater press conference, but he was eventually shut down. He has never returned to the mound.
He will finish with an outstanding overall career record of 143-91 and a 3.52 ERA, having allowed 2,116 hits in 2,156.2 innings.
Famed for his pinpoint control, Lee also finishes with an outstanding 3.93 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
In Philly, while Lee is remembered fondly by the fan base, it will ultimately be disappointment that characterizes his time here. Aside from the physical problems at the end, that is no reflection on him.
The Phils’ decision to deal him away rather than team him with Halladay and Hamels in the 2010 season cost the team a stronger shot at another World Series.
His final three seasons here coincided with the aging and collapse of the former championship position player core.
Lee’s contract with the Phillies ended with a $12.6 million buyout for this current season.