Rangers, not Yankees acquire Lee from M’s

July 04, 2010 - Detroit, MI, UNITED STATES - epa02237007 Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Cliff Lee (R) talks with Felix Hernandez after the left the game after the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, USA on 04 July 2010. The Mariners beat the Tigers 8-1. Lee was the winning pitcher.

Even though Brian Cashman and the Yankees tried to run interference earlier in the day, the Rangers still got the piece that could make them a legitimate World Series contender in the end.

On Friday, Texas acquired left-hander Cliff Lee, right-hander Mark Lowe and cash from the Mariners in exchange for first baseman Justin Smoak, right-hander Blake Beavan, left-hander Josh Lueke and second baseman Matt Lawson. The Rangers were believed to be the front-runners for Lee all along, but reports surfaced yesterday morning that the Yankees were on the verge of acquiring him. In the end, New York couldn’t come up with the second player to appease Seattle and Lee wound up in Texas by the early evening.

Lee gives the Rangers the excellent presence at the front of their rotation that they’ve desperately needed. Considering he’s switching to the best pitcher’s park in the AL to one of the worst that his numbers will drop, but Texas had to make this move. They’re on the verge of finally ending their 11-year playoff drought and needed to acquire that final piece to help push them over the edge. Assuming he pitches as well for them as he did for the Indians, Phillies and Mariners, Lee is going to be an outstanding edition to the Rangers and someone who has already proven he can get it done in the postseason.

For the Mariners, they had no choice but to make this move as well, although Smoak was the key. On the high side, he projects to be a Mark Teixeira-type, in that he can hit for average, has pop and plays excellent defense. For fans that were disappointed that their team didn’t trade for Lee, Smoak is the type of frontline prospect that it would have cost in order to acquire the left-hander. A lot of teams don’t even have a Justin Smoak in their farm system.

Both teams did well here and give Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik credit for getting the Yankees involved. That may have put a scare into the Rangers (who know doubt didn’t want to see Lee land in New York) and got them to finally part with Smoak.

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