Amaro Consulted Doc, Considered Re-Structuring His Contract, and Details on How We Landed Clifton

Whoa.  We assumed that, at some point, a story would come out about how Ruben Amaro contacted Roy Halladay (who was named the Sporting News' Pro Athlete of the Year today) before signing Cliff Lee. What we didn't expect, was that the Phillies would have been so sensitive of Doc's feelings in all this.

Jayson Stark has the report.  As you would expect, Doc just wants to win:

But Amaro said when he explained the "special circumstances" that had caused the team to consider altering that philosophy [signing Lee to more than three years].  Halladay told him, "Ruben, this is completely different. This is a totally different circumstance. Do what you think you've got to do to put the best team on the field. … All I want to do is win."

This team is so damn lovable.  But this next part is surprising:  []

That reaction, the GM said, was "exactly what I thought I would hear." But he admitted before he made the call, he and assistant GM Scott Proefrock "kicked around a couple of different possibilities" for adjusting Halladay's contract.

Because the Halladay extension was negotiated in the context of a trade, and not free agency, the Phillies felt those circumstances were different. But because they knew that in order to sign Lee, it would take so many more years and dollars than they'd offered Halladay, they might have an uncomfortable situation on their hands.

"So we definitely talked about that," Proefrock said, "how it would impact, if it would impact it. We were concerned about it. I think that's one of the reasons Ruben even called him. … We talked about it. But I don't think it's gotten any further or gone anywhere beyond that."

Because Doc reacted the way he did, the concept stopped there.  What's amazing is that the Phillies may have had even more flexibility to "adjust" Doc's contract.  And perhaps that's all because of silent partner Joe Middleton:  [Great read from]

John Middleton - Don’t underestimate the billionaire part owner’s impact on the Phillies’ aggressiveness. The guy is a competitor. He likes to win. You can see that when he walks around the clubhouse soaked in champagne after playoff series wins. You could see it in his eyes – they were fiery with anger and disappointment – when the Phillies lost in the NLCS in October.  Middleton might be a silent partner in the public’s eye, but he’s not silent in that boardroom. He’s got some Steinbrenner in him. 

That Steinbrenner is rubbing off and played a part in the Lee negotiations.  

As we first reported on Tuesday, the Phillies were not willing to let $5 million come between them and CP Lee.  Assistant GM Scott Proefrock called Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, on Friday with an offer. Braunecker, who was driving at the time, scribbled the terms onto the back of a CD case.  From there, talks picked up and continued throughout the weekend.  But by Sunday, it appeared as though the two sides reached an impasse.

"I sent Darek an e-mail on Sunday around 3 or 4 in the afternoon," Proefrock said. "It was basically, 'Sorry this didn't work out and we couldn't bridge the gap.' I told him, 'I appreciate your professionalism and your efforts to do what's best for your client.'"

Later in the day, Proefrock received a text message from Braunecker. "Is this eating at you as much as it's eating at me?" it read. The dialogue was rekindled, and the deal went from dormant to breathing.

Ultimately, three people willed the deal to fruition from the Phillies' end. Amaro, who's never lost the swagger or cockiness he possessed in his playing days, kept looking for ways to open doors that appeared to be closed. Proefrock, the Phillies' detail man, was the unsung hero, doggedly working through obstacles and finding ways to keep the lines of communication open. And in the end, Phillies president and CEO David Montgomery found a creative way to bump the guaranteed portion of Lee's deal from $115 million to $120 million and push the boulder to the top of the hill.

Great article from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that gives more detail to our report as to how conversations picked up over the weekend.

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8 Responses

  1. Hey man, great piece. I was wondering how Halladay thought about Cliff getting money like that since Doc clearly proved he is the best pitcher in baseball. Agreed that this team is so damn lovable, the team is going towards one thing and that is to win. Durbin needs to follow the Cliff Lee mentality and call the Phils saying he wants to work out a contract.

  2. Well this to me, is the kind of thing that will continue to draw potential top free agents to this city in the future. Because it says “yeah, we want to get a good player at a good price, but we’re not going to tray and railroad”.

  3. Class act team to a class act athlete…apparently none of us will know what it is like in that clubhouse, but many athletes come thru there and some for only a short time and it sticks with them forever….BROAD STREET is the new broadway!

  4. To echo the above comments, this team really does continue to become a better story. We’ve watched a very special group of players for a few years now. These guys have been the talk of baseball because of the way they play the game and how they are (for the most part) humble competitors.
    The story continues to get better when Halladay wants to take less to come here, and Polanco wanted to specifically come back to Philadelphia, with Ibanez trying to recruit him, telling him how incredible the team is. Then Oswalt lifts a no-trade clause to come to Philadelphia, and Brad Lidge tells him how incredible the team is (and then he proceeds to play left field for an inning). Then it comes to Cliff Lee, and everything that we know about what has gone down.
    We used to rip the ownership and the whole organization for not doing what the fans thought was right. Now we’re learning that they’ve always been doing right by the players and their families and now they’re doing as much as they can (and then some) to reward the fans. Players want to play for the Phillies? I would never have believed that 10 years ago, but there’s a reason why former players from all generations want to stay in Philadelphia and work for the organization in some capacity.
    This team and this organization are the envy of the entire league. This sort of success will not last forever, and this sort of team really doesn’t come along that often. We all have to appreciate and not take for granted the team and players that we have, and I think we do show our appreciation.
    We don’t need to argue with people to defend that we are good fans and a good baseball town. I think that’s becoming evident.

  5. This isn’t just a team, it’s a family. They simply love to win and they definitely love each other.
    Not only are we going to see the greatest rotation ever, but we’re witnessing possibly the greatest team chemistry in the history of baseball.
    20 years from now, we’ll look back at this team and shed a tear at how lucky we were to have experienced it in person.
    This team is the type of team you will tell stories to your grandkids about. It’s the kind of team that comes along once in a generation.
    It’s going to be a great ride!

  6. I couldn’t agree more with Tyson and DB. I find myself being so proud and getting so emotional about the Phillies organization, top to bottom. They truly are an inspiration! I’m so glad that other people “get it”!

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