- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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"At the root of this deal was balancing the conviction of our ability to compete in 2010 with the opportunity to impact the team's construction for years to come," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said in a statement. "Without the sense of confidence in the team's ultimate competitiveness, we acted aggressively to add players that will impact the organization in 2010 and beyond."
Asked in Seattle whether he felt the Blue Jays dodged a bullet by the Phillies acquiring Lee instead of Halladay, Toronto manager Cito Gaston noted that some of Philadelphia's top prospects were still available and said with a chuckle, "Yeah, I guess. Who knows? They may come back and get [Halladay], too. That'd be a pretty good staff there, wouldn't it?"
Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young winner who turns 31 next month, is having another solid season for the Indians, posting a 3.14 ERA while walking just 33 in 152 innings. He will make $8 million in 2010 and then be eligible for free agency.
Lee, who was a guest on ESPN950 in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning, was asked if he definitely plans to test free agency.
"That's where every player wants to be, so honestly, the closer I get to that point, the more likelihood I'm going to be testing free agency," he said. "But I still have a year and two months 'til then, so we'll see."
Lee would be the sixth Cy Young winner to be traded in the offseason or during the season following his Cy Young win. Last season, 2007 AL Cy Young winner CC Sabathia was traded by the Indians to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Lee gives the Phillies another top starter to join Cole Hamels. Hamels, who was MVP of the World Series and NLCS last fall, has been inconsistent this season. He's 7-5 with a 4.42 ERA, though he pitched well in a Tuesday night victory over the Diamondbacks.
The Phillies have a comfortable lead in the division -- seven games ahead of second-place Florida going into Wednesday's games. They've sought pitching help since No. 2 starter Brett Myers had hip surgery in June. Forty-six-year-old Jamie Moyer leads the staff with 10 wins, but he has a 5.32 ERA.
"Obviously the Phillies are the defending world champions, they're a good team and they're in first place," Lee, sitting in the Indians' clubhouse in Anaheim, Calif., said hours before the deal reached fruition. "Honestly, it's an honor and I look at it as a good thing. If other teams are wanting me and are willing to trade some of their key players and future players for me, it's a compliment."
Francisco is batting .250 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs. He upgrades Philadelphia's bench, which has lacked a solid, right-handed hitter.
Jayson Stark covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.