The Cliff Lee talks went from whirlwind to nuts on Friday, with a deal with the Yankees moving from nearly done to essentially falling apart by Friday afternoon, leaving the door open for the Texas Rangers to swoop in and acquire Lee for a package of prospects centered around first baseman Justin Smoak, according to CBSSports.com sources.
The Rangers will receive Lee and reliever Mark Lowe in exchange for Smoak, minor-league second baseman Matt Lawson and two minor-league right-handed pitchers, Josh Lueke and Blake Bevin.
Seattle also will send cash to Texas, a sum said by one source to be "in excess of $2 million", to cover part of the $4.5 million owed Lee through the rest of 2010.
The Rangers, according to one club official, were feverishly working much of the day toward striking a deal to acquire Seattle's ace left-hander, the prize pitcher on the trade market this July. The offensively challenged Mariners were looking for good, young hitters, and the Texas farm system is stocked.
The news, expected to be formally announced later Friday, caps a wild day of rumors, talks and speculation.
With Lee scheduled to pitch against the Yankees on Friday evening, the day started with New York moving into position to strike quickly to bring Lee to the Bronx, according to sources. The Yankees were deep in discussions Friday morning to acquire Lee for a package centered around catching prospect Jesus Montero and minor-league second baseman David Adams.
When those talks broke down -- or, more likely, causing those talks to break down -- the Rangers were exceptionally aggressive. Texas was working with the benefit of one of the game's most well-stocked farm systems, and the acquisition of Lee makes first-place Rangers strong favorites to win their first AL West crown since 1999.
The Rangers have called a 5 p.m. CDT press conference to announce the deal.