The Texas Rangers seized an opportunity when talks between the Mariners and the Yankees broke down to swing a deal for Cliff Lee. Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal confirmed the deal shortly before five pm eastern time.
Fill your Fridays with rumors and innuendo and your weekend will commence with startling alacrity. Baseball's blogosphere and twitterverse buzzed with the initial Cliff Lee report tweeted by the New York Post's Joel Sherman around four am eastern. The Yankees had swooped in to seal the deal for the Mariner ace.
But after physicals were exchanged, Mariner GM Jack Zduriencik began to work the phones. An ankle injury to second base prospect David Adams prompted his retreat. At that point Jon Daniels pounced.
The unsettled ownership imbroglio, which our own Maury Brown has followed with a laser like focus, has left the club in bankruptcy prompting Daniels to get creative to engineer the exchange. The Rangers finally added First baseman Justin Smoak to the deal in order to get $2.5 million to cover most of the remaining $4 million Lee is owed for 2010.
In addition, the Rangers pick up reliever Mark Lowe who is currently on the disabled list and out for the remainder of the season.
Seattle gets four prospects from the Rangers. The centerpiece of the deal is Smoak who has been starting in Texas since being called up on April 23rd. In addition to Smoak, Texas will send starter Blake Beavan, reliever Josh Luecke and second baseman Matt Lawson.
The focus on getting a near-ready second baseman in the Lee deal coupled to the progress Mariner top hitting prospect, second baseman Dustin Ackley, is making hints that Jose Lopez' time in Seattle will soon be at an end.
Lee was the big coup in an offseason brimming with widely praised moves by Zduriencik. The Mariners brought him in to ride shotgun with Felix Hernandez at the front of Seattle's rotation. Too many of the moves failed to meet expectations but Lee did and then some.
Injury held him out until April 30th. But in his 13 starts he's posted an AL leading 2.34 ERA and a league best five complete games. He has almost as many strikeouts (89) as hits allowed (92) and has a whopping six walks. Despite the stellar numbers, the Rangers are his fourth team in the last twelve months. He helped pitch the Phillies to the World Series last year after a deadline deal got him out of Cleveland. Lee won the 2008 AL Cy Young Award with the Indians.
Lowe is not as heralded as Lee, but had established himself as a dependable setup man in the Mariner pen. He has gone 1-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 11 relief games out of the pen for Seattle this season. He has been on the disabled list since May 3 with lower back inflammation and had microdiscectomy surgery on his back on June 15.
Smoak has batted .209 with 8 homers and 34 RBI in 70 games for Texas this season, his first major league action. The club’s first round selection in the 2008 June draft, he has a team-high 66 starts at first base for the Rangers in 2010. His contract was purchased from Oklahoma City on April 23 after batting .300 in 15 games in the Pacific Coast League.
Beavan, 21, has spent the entire season at Double-A Frisco, going 10-5 with a 2.78 ERA in 17 starts. He was recently promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City after his last start for Frisco on Monday, but had yet to appear for the RedHawks. Beavan was selected out of Irving High School in the first round (17th overall) of the 2007 June draft.
Lueke, 25, began the season at Low-A Hickory and went 2-1 with 10 saves and a 0.46 ERA in 17 relief outings before a promotion to Double-A Frisco in late May. He has gone 1-1 with 2 saves and a 3.86 ERA in 15 relief appearances for Frisco in his first Double-A action. Lueke was originally selected in the 16th round of the 2007 June draft.
Lawson, 24, has spent the entire season at Double-A Frisco, batting .277 with 16 doubles, 7 homers and 34 RBI in 76 games for the RoughRiders. He was recently named to the 2010 Texas League All-Star team. Lawson was originally selected by Texas in the 14th round of the 2007 June draft.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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