Structure of Lee's contract made deal possible

Cliff Lee wanted to come back to Philadelphia. He made that point abundantly clear more than once during his news conference Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.

The 32-year-old lefthander also made it clear to the Phillies a number of times and a number of ways before signing the five-year, $120 million deal that set up a rotation of four aces for next season.

One final way Lee showed the Phillies he wanted to be here was by backloading his contract. He will make $11 million in 2011, which helps the team keep its payroll down until 2012 when players such as Roy Oswalt ($16 million), Brad Lidge ($11.5 million) and Raul Ibanez ($11.5 million) could all be cleared from the payroll.

Who should be the Phillies’ fifth starter?

  • 370 (28.9%)
  • 185 (14.4%)
  • 338 (26.4%)
  • 389 (30.3%)
  • 1282

The Phillies have options for Oswalt and Lidge, so it's possible they could remain with the team. It will be interesting to see how many years the Phillies can keep the four aces together.

"His number that first year is a lot lower than years two, three and four because we have some pretty significant commitments in year one," Phillies president David Montgomery said. "The sense is they wanted to find ways to be here and they asked us what the parameters would be and we said it was important that we continue with the previous commitments we made and see if we could fit Cliff into that."

The complete breakdown of Lee's contract: 2011: $11 million; 2012: $21.5 million; 2013: $25 million; 2014: $25 million; 2015: $25 million; 2016: club option for $27.5 million that becomes guaranteed if Lee pitches 200 innings in 2015 or 400 innings combined in 2014-15. There is a $12.5 million buyout.