The Tribe locked up Cliff Lee for 3 years with a $14M contract with an $8M club option for 2010 this morning.
The Lee signing is another move to lock up that “core” that has become the buzzword around Jacobs Field. The Lee signing gives the Tribe 3 solid lefties (with C.C. and Sowers) around which to build the rotation until at least 2008 (that’s how long C.C.’s current contract goes).
Seeing as how the rotation is typically the hardest, and most expensive, portion of the team to build, this is a pretty major move.
Some speculation exists that the Tribe gave Lee this contract to make him more attractive on the trade market (see Arroyo, Bronson), but I’m more inclined to think that the Indians think that Lee projects as the 3rd or 4th starter through the length of this deal.
Considering what solid starting pitching is going for (and I’ll put Lee in that category – solid, but unspectacular), this deal is a real value for the Tribe, at a pro-rated clip of less than $5M per.
Additionally, the contract puts the amount of money that the Indians have tied up to their “core” to over $100M (it’s actually $103M in guaranteed money to Lee, Hafner, Peralta, Sizemore, Sabathia, and Martinez) over the life of their deals.
In other news, Casey Blake was sent to the 15-day DL, with Ryan Garko-my-God-did-you-see-how-far-he-hit-that making the return trip west on I-90 to Cleveland.
Garko should probably take over the 1B/C platoon with Victor and Shoppach, while Big League Choo should now get everyday player status in RF.
Nothing quite like attrition to force evaluation.