Halladay elated to have Lee in Phillies uniform

Halladay elated to have Lee in Phillies uniform

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies became the "mystery team" in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes because only a select few knew about the negotiations.

The list included club president David Montgomery, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., assistant general manager Scott Proefrock, Lee, his wife, Kristen, and his agent, Darek Braunecker. Everybody else -- including manager Charlie Manuel -- had been left in the dark.

Everybody except Roy Halladay.

He knew over the weekend.

He knew because Amaro called him to ask him about it. Halladay waived his no-trade clause last December and signed a three-year, $60 million contract extension with the Phillies. (It includes a $20 million vesting option in 2014 with no buyout.) The Phils told Halladay they would not go more than three years with him. But now they wanted to give Lee a five-year, $120 million deal. For as much as people have marveled at Lee's willingness to take less money, Halladay cost himself perhaps $80 million or more to join the Phillies when he did.

Amaro wanted to see if Halladay would be OK with it.

"There's no way, if you really want to win, you're going to be worrying about what they're paying him," Halladay said in a telephone interview. "And that's definitely not my case. I'm thrilled Cliff is here. I would have loved to have played with him last year, but I understood the business of it. I understood we traded all these young players and we were trying to get some back. But once [Amaro] said they had a chance we could get him back again, I was thrilled. It's better for us. He's going to make us a better team.

"Ruben didn't have to call me. That just tells you about the organization. That's why so many players want to come here."

Amaro got Halladay's OK and then told him, "Please, please, please, don't tell anybody we're talking to Cliff Lee."

"Ruben was very good at keeping the whole thing quiet," Halladay said. "He asked me to do the same. You just put it in an empty compartment in your brain somewhere and try not to think about it. Yeah, I just kind of tried to blank it out after I talked to him, because I didn't want to get too excited about something and not have it happen."

But he figured things must be getting close around 10:30 p.m. ET on Monday, when he received a text message from former Blue Jays teammate Pat Hentgen.

"Are you guys getting Cliff Lee?" Hentgen asked.

"I had no idea anything was out yet," Halladay said. "I went to bed early. I got the kids up at six in the morning. By the time I woke up, I had gotten a bunch of texts saying we had gotten Cliff. That's at five in the morning. It was definitely pretty cool. I obviously knew a little beforehand that maybe they had a shot, but to actually get it done was surprising."

The possibilities of a rotation that includes Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels have had Phillies fans delirious. The Phils sold 1,500 tickets Monday before the news broke. They sold 35,000 tickets Tuesday.

The foursome has a combined three Cy Young Awards, 10 top five Cy Young Award finishes, six 20-win seasons, 13 All-Star appearances, one World Series MVP and two National League Championship Series MVPs. Lee's addition to the rotation has made the Phillies clear favorites to win the NL pennant.

"To bring that kind of pitching to a team that for the most part has been known for its offense, that's pretty special," Halladay said. "Sometimes you have one or the other, but not really both. And not to the extent that we do. It's definitely exciting. And now is the time to be excited about it. Once Spring Training comes, I think it's time to bear down on business."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.