Rangers Acquire Cliff Lee For Smoak, Prospects

Cliff Lee is joining his fourth team in 12 months and the Rangers are hoping he can lead them to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. The Rangers pried Lee away from the Mariners and multiple suitors today in a blockbuster deal that makes the 50-35 Rangers clear favorites to win the AL West.

They obtained Lee, Mark Lowe (who is out for the season with back surgery) and cash considerations from the Mariners for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Matthew Lawson and Josh Lueke.

Though the Rangers' ownership is uncertain, GM Jon Daniels was able to add Lee and his $9MM salary with some creative deal-making. The Mariners will cover about $2.5MM of the $4.2MM remaining on Lee's salary, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter), presumably because the Rangers included an appealing group of prospects. But giving up Lee wasn't easy, even for top young talent.

“This is a bittersweet day for us,” Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said. “While we are excited about the group of young players we have acquired from the Rangers, it’s never easy to trade a player like Cliff Lee, who has been outstanding here.”

Justin Smoak has yet to stand out at the big league level, but has star potential. Baseball America ranked Smoak second among all Rangers prospects before the season, behind 2010 All-Star Neftali Feliz. The publication suggested Smoak, 23, has "a chance to be a switch-hitting slugger in the Mark Teixeira mold." So far, Smoak's big league performance has been less than Teixeira-esque. He has a .209/.316/.353 line with eight homers in half a season.

Beavan, 21, was the Rangers' first round pick in 2007 and is now pitching at AA. He has a 2.78 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and a Cliff Lee-like 1.0 BB/9. Baseball America ranked Beavan 17th among Rangers prospects before the season, explaining that he could become a back-of-the-rotation innings eater, even if his stuff doesn't improve.

Lawson, a 24-year-old second baseman is hitting .277/.371/.438 at AA, along with Lueke and Beavan. Lueke, 25, has a 3.86 ERA with 12.5 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 as a reliever this year.

A lot of talent is heading to Seattle, but the Rangers will have the chance to reclaim some young players, even if Lee departs as a free agent after the season. Lee currently ranks as a Type A free agent, so the Rangers can obtain two top picks in the 2011 draft if they offer Lee arbitration and he turns it down to sign elsewhere.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported that a deal was close and first reported that the Rangers had agreed to acquire Lee. Buster Olney, Jon Heyman, Ken Davidoff, Mark Feinsand, Bob Nightengale, Ken Rosenthal, Jon Paul Morosi, Ed Price, Evan Grant, T.R. Sullivan, Frankie Piliere and others added updates and details.

The Rangers outbid the many other clubs connected to Lee, including the Rays, Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Phillies, Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers and Reds. Oh yeah, and the Yankees.

So much for the Yankees’ unwillingness to hand over prospects for three month rentals. Brian Cashman & Co. offered Jesus Montero, David Adams and another prospect, possibly Zach McAllister, for Lee and were 'on the brink' of acquiring him earlier today. The Yankees thought they had a deal for the left-hander, according to Rosenthal (Twitter link), but it wasn't the case. The Mariners re-opened discussions with the Rangers, learned that Smoak was available, and the sides reached a deal.

For the deal that sent Lee to the Phillies click here; for the deal that sent Lee to the Mariners click here.


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694 Comments on "Rangers Acquire Cliff Lee For Smoak, Prospects"


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Abraham Zapruder
4 years 11 months ago

The Yanks must think Montero is going to be a bust.

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NYBravosFan10
4 years 11 months ago

No the Yankees just don’t care about prospects and how they can benefit the team with their play. Apparently the Yankees are fine with a lineup made almost fully of 30 somethings.

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CosaOne
4 years 11 months ago

Or more based in reality they see a prospect with a stellar bat that may not be able to play catcher and might have to move to a spot they have locked up for another 7 years. They would be trading Montero for a guy whos a top 3 pitcher in all of baseball not for a utility infielder or reliever.

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NYBravosFan10
4 years 11 months ago

so you’re saying that Francisco Cervelli has a better upside than one of the top prospects in the game? Maybe but I doubt it.

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CosaOne
4 years 11 months ago

Where are you getting that from? Im say that there are real questions about if he can play catcher and that he may have to move to 1st base. Thats the position that is taken for the next 7 years by mark Teixeira. I never mentioned Cervelli nor does he have anything to do with the discussion at hand. If anything this might show that they have alot of confidence in Austin Romine but Cervelli is in no way the future at catcher for the Yankees, and i never stated that position

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NYBravosFan10
4 years 11 months ago

So you’re saying that Montero has no future as a catcher? Defintely have heard that before but the fact remains that I’m just not sure as to why the Yankees would want to give up a young hot-hitting stud that adds some age to an otherwise older lneup. I’ve heard good things about Austin Romine but not as much as Montero.

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CosaOne
4 years 11 months ago

I didnt say he has no future because I cant speak with that amount of certainty, I said there are questions if he can catch and that he may have to move to a position which wont be available on the yankees.

If you are asking my opinion I dont like the deal but i can certainly see the logic behind it and dont think it is a ridiculous deal in which the yankees are getting screwed

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Montero has no future. This is the guy who can’t catch and can’t play first base.

And he doesn’t have enough juice to be an offensive threat in Safeco Field.

And AAA pitching gives him a lot of trouble this year. His bat may not even come.

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CosaOne
4 years 11 months ago

He isnt a good catcher that doesnt mean he CANT catch and you have absolutely no idea if he can play first or not.

He’s 20 years old and is holding his in AAA that is impressive, for you to say he wont be an offensive threat is ridiculous and goes againt what every talent evaluator, writer and scout has said in print.

Basically you have no idea what you are talking about. I can find you dozens of examples of talent evaluators praising his bat and comparing him to big time sluggers/hitters. Also in the last month he’s hit- .353/.402/.565, with 9 extra base hits. Its not uncommon for a a young guy to struggle at the highest level.

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

he can’t play 1B. Yanks tried before and failed.

And look at his BABIP. “what every talent evaluator, writer and scout has said in print. ” Oh yeah. They also said Alex Graman throws 95-mph and has 4 plus-plus pitches. They also said Tyler Clippard is a future CYA.

Give me one name. Name one Yankees prospect who was traded by Cashman in the past 10 years who actually became a star. I can tell you. The answer is NONE.

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

From 01-09, Yanks have traded away following “prospects”:

Wily Mo Pena, Ed Yarnall, Jackson Melian , Brian Reith, Scott Wiggins, Jason Anderson, Ryan Bicondoa, Anderson Garcia, Brandon Claussen, Charlie Manning, Ramon Ramirez, Eduardo Sierra, C.J. Henry, Matt Smith, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monastrios, Jeff Kennard, Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Tabata, Daniel McCutchen, Wilson Betemit, Jhonny Nunez, Jeff Marquez, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino.

Tell me any one of them actually develops into a star? Ohlendorf is the best of all. But he is nowhere near what Yanks fans expect: a front-line starter.

Fact, Yanks sold “trash” to other teams for proven players like Raul Mondesi, Armando Benitez, Aaron Boone, Jeff Nelson, Shawn Chacon, Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, Jose Melina, Xavier Nady, Damaso Marte, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

I like how you conveniently left out Austin Jackson

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

From 01-09, Yanks have traded away following “prospects”:

Wily Mo Pena, Ed Yarnall, Jackson Melian , Brian Reith, Scott Wiggins, Jason Anderson, Ryan Bicondoa, Anderson Garcia, Brandon Claussen, Charlie Manning, Ramon Ramirez, Eduardo Sierra, C.J. Henry, Matt Smith, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monastrios, Jeff Kennard, Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Tabata, Daniel McCutchen, Wilson Betemit, Jhonny Nunez, Jeff Marquez, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino.

Tell me any one of them actually develops into a star? Ohlendorf is the best of all. But he is nowhere near what Yanks fans expect: a front-line starter.

Fact, Yanks sold “trash” to other teams for proven players like Raul Mondesi, Armando Benitez, Aaron Boone, Jeff Nelson, Shawn Chacon, Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, Jose Melina, Xavier Nady, Damaso Marte, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez

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CosaOne
4 years 11 months ago

Montero signed with Yankees at the age of 16 and since then has never played a single professional inning at 1st base in a game. I dont know where you are getting this info. The Yankees routinely have their catchers take grounders at 1st and 3rd but Montero has never been tried out at 1st base.

Tyler Clippard was never considered anything special by professionals. Yankee fans artificially inflated his worth because of his results, but pros always said he was mediocre at best and took advantage of low level talent by pitching backwards and that that approach wouldnt wok in the majors.

Guys who have went on to have productive seasons the Yankees traded are Nick Johnson, Alphonso Soriano, Ted Lilly, Jake Westbrook, Ramon Ramirez, Dionar Navarro, Juan Rivera, Mike Lowell etc. But NONE of those guys were as highly regarded as Montero is now. And if Nick Johnson could stay healthy he is without a doubt a very good ball player.

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

You didn’t answer the question. 01-09 class who actually became a star. The only guy you mentioned was Mike Lowell(Soriano wasn’t a Yanks prospect. You don’t say Ichiro was a M’s prospect, right?). That was like 13 years ago?Oh yeah, and NONE of those guys, including Jesus Montero, were as highly regarded as DREW HENSON. That’s another fact :DYanks prospect scouting reports are always like this:Phil Hughes: Next Roger Clemens. One-of-the-life-time type. Future HOFer.Dellin Betances: Next Phil Hughes. One-of-the-life-time type. Future HOFer.Jesus Montero: Next Mike Piazza. One-of-the-life-time type. Future HOFer.Austin Romine: Next Jesus Montero. One-of-the-life-time type. Future HOFer.That’s a Joke.

Oh. Yanks didn’t try that in the game. He was so awful in the training.

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CosaOne
4 years 11 months ago

I havent made any claims that any of these guys was going to turn into a future hall of famer and i already stated that Montero will most likely have to switch positions so im not sure why you are arguing with me.

Also the highest I can see Drew Henson ranked was 9th in 2002 by Baseball America, Nick Johnson was ranked as high as 5th and this year Montero was ranked high in the top 10 this season. So you are incorrect about Henson being the highest prospect. The Dodgers had two guys, Guzman and Jackson, consistently ranked in the top 5 who havent done much but does that mean that every Dodgers prospect is trash?

I certainly classify Nick Johnson as a productive MLBer who was developed by the team

If your position is that the Yankees have traded prospects that havent become superstars thus every prospect in the future they trade is absolute shit i dont agree with that. Prospects fail immensely more then they succeed, I can list you 10 prospects from each org that were highly touted that have failed that doesnt mean that every future guy will suck.

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CosaOne
4 years 11 months ago

My reply is waiting to be approved by a moderator for some reason but while that happens maybe you could provide some evidence that Montero was tried at 1st and failed?

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

he can’t play 1B. Yanks tried before and failed.

And look at his BABIP. “what every talent evaluator, writer and scout has said in print. ” Oh yeah. They also said Alex Graman throws 95-mph and has 4 plus-plus pitches. They also said Tyler Clippard is a future CYA.

Give me one name. Name one Yankees prospect who was traded by Cashman in the past 10 years who actually became a star. I can tell you. The answer is NONE.

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

cause montero isnt hitting right now, hes production has dropped off majorly this season

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killacam04
4 years 11 months ago

well there really isnt much room. 1b is locked up for a while. Cervelli plays way better defense to justify the fact he has been playing half of the time. That Dh spot also needs to be open for the aging players. Some players no matter how good may not fit into the plans.

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Guest
4 years 11 months ago

That’s an absurd comment. A lot of the fans and commenters need to get something straight. The Yankees make perfect sense on both ends of this trade. 1st) The match up best for the Mariners needs. 2nd) Pettitte is almost virtually a lock to retire this year, especially with the season he is having. Vasquez would not resign. AJ is spotty and Hughes while he has been brilliant needs another year or two before he true front end (ie 1/2) so going into to 2011, the Yanks have CC as their only true guarantee.

The may lose Montero now, catcher being one the Yanks deepest talent positions, save the loss of draft picks if the signed Lee as a free agent and take those top picks and go get a potential short stop or another pitcher.

Basically, it makes a lot of sense if Cashman can pull off. And yes, I agree Javy gets flipped to someone in the NL. In fact perhaps the balance of the two prospects could come from the team receiving Vasquez.

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NYBravosFan10
4 years 11 months ago

you must understand this about me…I live in New York state and unless you do as well you have NO IDEA how much the Yankees are shoved down your throat and you are crucified for not being a fan. Because of this, I can’t stand the Yankees and rarely agree with anything they do as well as find it asier to criticize them. Kinda the same way Boston Red Sox fans do.

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

The only problem with your explanation regarding the starting rotation is that all of your points speak in favor of Lee for next season. If that were the case, why wouldn’t they just pick him up in free agency?

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Have you ever heard any catching prospect only caught like 20% runners in AA?

Only two guys did that and were still called “prospect”, one is Montero, the other is Romine. If they’re from other 29 clubs their names were already been forgotten.

Get real. Having two young catchers can’t catch, that’s not deep. It’s FAILURE.

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CrisE
4 years 11 months ago

As a player? no, but as a catcher yes.

If the glove won’t play then Montero shouldn’t be compared to Cervelli. He’d have to be seen as a DH or 1B or LF or whatever, and there are excellent players locked in already at many of those spots.

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Right. Cervelli can catch. And Montero is the most overrated prospect.

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KeiIgawa
4 years 11 months ago

Who cares about Cervelli? The Yankees have two other top catchers in their system, including Austin Romaine, who some scouts think might be a better major league catcher.

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TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

Haven’t the Yankees ALWAYS been fine with a lineup of 30-somethings?

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NYBravosFan10
4 years 11 months ago

yes and I don’t get it

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TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

The results seem to speak for themselves.

God, I’m being an apologist for the Yankees business model. I need to go shower… just… feel… so… dirty…

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dawgpaddlez
4 years 11 months ago

how does a second base prospect match up with their needs..can someone please tell me…wasnt their number 2 overall pick a second baseman? why are they trading for a AA second baseman with no pop

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

NO your wrong…
The Yankees dont need prospects, every off-season they will reach into the bottomless pit and BUY every all-star available. thats how they play, buy everything they can.

if they pick up lee, they legitimately have bought themselves an all-star team…
i mean the only spot they need a little bit of help could be catcher, they will wait for Yadier Molina or someone else to come up and buy them out.

why keep prospects when you can buy an all-star in the off season?

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Wow, this post is so factual, I don’t need to add anything else. Everything is so correct.

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

The yankees are stupid. Posada is old and Adams can play all infeild possitions, which is good because jeter is getting old as well. So they trade three blue chip prospect, plus next year they will have to at least outbid everyone. So in recap, the yankees trade three prospects, plus 150 million bucks for Lee. I cant wait til he gets hurt.

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dawgpaddlez
4 years 11 months ago

can someone please tell me why they are acquiring a second base prospect

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

He can’t play catcher. 22% CS is plain awful. This guy may head to Japan in a few years.

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

this could very well be the “soriano for randy johnson” deal all over again, and montero becomes like soriano for a year AND THEN THE YANKEES trade him.

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Maaaac
4 years 11 months ago

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid. He will be a free agent after the season is over. The Yanks offense is getting older and older. They need young hitters.

Ugh

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

This is just pure speculation on my part. But if they trade Montero it has to mean they must think Lee will be open to an extension either with them, or with whatever other team he would have been traded to.

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Kitfisto007
4 years 11 months ago

Montero, McAllister, Joseph, Brackman, De Leon? Just a guess… I’m a Red Sox fan, and I’m on the edge of my seat.

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

yea, maybe if it was for J Johnson. nice try, though

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anthonymurillo
4 years 11 months ago

I’m all for it. Pitching wins you World Championships and having Cliff Lee as our #1 starter gives us a better shot of repeating as World Champions.

There’s also that rumor of Vazquez/Werth

Guest
4 years 11 months ago

wont happen Vazquez has a partial no trade and the phils are on that list. the phils also want a player controllable past 2010 which he does not

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Zack23
4 years 11 months ago

Where did you find that? Cot’s has his NTC to NL West and AL West clubs, no mention of Philly.

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Zack23
4 years 11 months ago

Where did you find that? Cot’s has his NTC to NL West and AL West clubs, no mention of Philly.

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ajf718
4 years 11 months ago

Bankees are at it again.