Surprise! Cliff Lee is off the board

I woke up to the shocking news that Cliff Lee has agreed to a five-year, $120 million deal with one of his old teams, the Philadelphia Phillies.

So much for the Yankees and Rangers fighting it out for Lee.

There’s something about the Yankees not getting what they want that puts a smile on my face, even at this early hour.

Lee took a lesser deal to pitch for the Phillies again, but we’re still talking $120 million. And the contract reportedly includes a vesting option for a sixth year that should easily be reached if Lee stays healthy.

Anyone who thinks the Orioles should have swooped in and gotten Lee with a similar offer really doesn’t know the Orioles. They weren’t shelling out that kind of dough for a pitcher and Lee obviously wanted to rejoin the Phillies - with more than a little prompting from his wife, I’m guessing.

Would I have made a bold offer for the ace as soon as the market opened? Yes. Is it my money? No.

We’ve done this dance before.

Right-hander Joe Blanton is reportedly on the trading block and the Orioles were interested in him last winter. You may remember that his name came up during the winter meetings. I remember being really, really cold in Indianapolis.

Blanton has two years and $17 million remaining on his contract, so the Phillies would have to eat part of it. Not a large chunk, but enough that the Orioles don’t choke on it.

Not sure what the Phillies would want in return, but it makes sense. Blanton could be slotted in the middle of the rotation and he absorbs innings. And I’d almost guarantee that he’d win more than four games.

Manager Buck Showalter and a few of his players, including Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Koji Uehara and Mark Reynolds, will be attending today’s annual holiday party for local elementary school students. Later, Reynolds will join me in the MASN web studio at the warehouse for a video interview that will be posted on this site.

I’ll be covering a lot of ground today.

I also have a strong arm and some pop.

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