The Texas Rangers acquired pitcher Cliff Lee in a trade from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for minor league prospects, including first baseman Justin Smoak.
It’s the second straight year Lee has been traded to a first-place team in a pennant race from a club that was far down in the standings.
The Rangers also got right-handed pitcher Mark Lowe and cash from Seattle, who added Smoak, minor league players Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matt Lawson, the club said on its website. First baseman Chris Davis was recalled from Oklahoma City to take Smoak’s place on the active roster.
Reports in the New York Post earlier today had Lee on the verge of being traded to the New York Yankees for a group of minor-league prospects including catcher Jesus Montero. That deal fell apart at the last minute when the Mariners asked for more players, the Post said.
Lee, a 31-year-old left-hander, has an 8-3 record in 13 starts and leads the American League with a 2.34 earned run average. He is two years removed from winning the American League Cy Young Award as the league’s best pitcher and helped the Philadelphia Phillies reach the World Series last year.
Wins Against Yankees
Lee started five games for the Phillies in the 2009 postseason, going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA. He won both his World Series starts against the Yankees, including a complete game in the opener, when he recorded 10 strikeouts and allowed one unearned run.
Starting last season with the Cleveland Indians, Lee also was the winning pitcher in the first regular-season game played at the new Yankee Stadium.
Lee, who made his major league debut with Cleveland in 2002, has a career record of 97-55 with a 3.86 ERA.
The Phillies traded Lee to the Mariners in the offseason. He started the year on the disabled list with a strained abdomen and the Mariners have struggled, posting a 34-51 record and sitting 16 games out of first place in the AL West. The Mariners offense has floundered and ranks 29th of 30 major league teams.
Lee was scheduled to pitch in tonight’s game between the Mariners and the Yankees in Seattle. The Rangers rank tenth in baseball with a 3.86 ERA. Their staff has combined for four complete games, while Lee has thrown five complete games this season, including one against his new team.
Lee, who was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 2000, has been traded three times in his eight-year career.
The Phillies sent him to Seattle for three prospects after acquiring another Cy Young winner, Roy Halladay. He joined a staff in Seattle that included Felix Hernandez and the injured Erik Bedard.
The Rangers, who are in bankruptcy, had sought approval of a sale agreement with a group that included Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and had a deal in place that was valued at $575 million. The Major League Baseball team then reversed course and is planning to auction itself.