I'm not going to tell you that it's a good thing that the Rangers were unable to re-sign Cliff Lee. It's felt kind of like a dream around here since they made the deadline deal to add him, and his re-signing probably would have made 2011 feel like a fairytale as well. It also stinks to know that he chose the Phillies over the Rangers simply because he wanted to play there more, rather than for reasons that can be more easily villainized.
But here's what I can tell you:
1. I haven't been able to decide whether the deal that the Rangers would have to give Lee to bring him back would be a good thing for the franchise in the big picture. Lots of arguments can be made both ways, but deep down I was struggling to convince myself that they weren't selling their future.
2. This is a team without a dominating rotation now, but it's also an organization with a lot of good players and a lot of cash. Remember, December isn't the last time in this cycle that teams can improve their roster. The Angels made one of the best deals in years by picking up Dan Haren for not much at the last deadline. And the Rangers added a pitcher who one might argue helped them a little. The money and prospects being tossed around in deals this winter are inflated - maybe the market is a bit more favorable in the spring or summer.
At any rate, there is still a lot to work with here, and the Rangers clearly have an aggressive mindset. The rest of the offseason is still going to be fascinating.
3. One of Jon Daniels' key talents is the ability to multi-task his personnel scenarios. This seems like something that any major league GM should excel in, but I don't think that it is. He and his staff have known since last July that this would be a very possible scenario and have likely spent thousands of hours working on what they would do with that talent and those dollars if Lee goes elsewhere
4. It feels hollow now, but the Rangers will receive a first round pick and a supplemental pick as compensation. Those players - and some more of that cash - may be needed to replace the ones dealt in a deal for a starting pitcher like Zack Greinke.
5. This is also a little hollow, but the Rangers don't have to deal with Lee in the AL Playoffs, should they make it. The Rangers lost one of the best pitchers in baseball, but so did the AL as a whole. Texas beat pitchers like C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte with pitchers still on their staff, and while they beat David Price with Cliff Lee on the mound, they hit him hard enough to beat him with someone less dominating. The road isn't completely daunting, particularly if Texas can supplement one of their top three pitching slots.