SEATTLE (AP) — Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia were convinced they were about to become teammates again.
How much? Their wives were already talking about places to live in New York.
"We were pretty excited. Hopefully we can get him next year," Sabathia said.
Those thoughts of Sabathia and Lee becoming teammates again, and topping arguably the most formidable pitching staff in baseball, were brought to a halt Friday afternoon when the rumors of Lee being traded from Seattle to the New York Yankees were replaced by the reality of Lee being dealt to Texas.
Instead going to the first-place team in the Big Apple, Lee is joining the first-place team in the Lone Star state. Lee, reliever Mark Lowe and cash were sent to Texas for first baseman Justin Smoak and three minor leaguers.
As usually the case with big-name trade prospects, the Yankees were involved. New York didn't necessarily need Lee with a starting rotation that already features Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.
But the Yankees certainly didn't want to see Lee land with one of their AL East challengers.
For much of Friday, it appeared Sabathia and Lee, one-time teammates in Cleveland, would be reunited. The duo began talking Thursday night about the possibility of Lee heading to the Big Apple after reports surfaced of the Yankees and Mariners in serious talks.
Some of the Yankees management spoke with Sabathia to find out about his experiences having Lee as a teammate with the Indians. While Sabathia and Lee talked of being on the same pitching staff again, their wives spoke of real estate.
"I figured he might have a clue what was going on there," Lee said of his conversations with Sabathia. "He was under the impression it was going to happen so taking that plus what I was seeing in the media ... I had a pretty good feeling it was going to happen. But it didn't and I'm a Ranger."
Sabathia said he was off having lunch when he saw the news on television of Lee being traded to Texas.
"When I talked to him this morning, I thought he was definitely coming here," Sabathia said. "Like I said, it just didn't work out. But he's a free agent and we'll see what happens.
Instead of joining the Yankees, Lee is taking his 8-3 record and 2.34 ERA to Texas where the Rangers enjoy the largest lead — 5½ games — of any division leader as the All-Star break approaches.
No matter how Lee views his time in Texas, the Yankees are likely to again be major players for the former AL Cy Young winner when Lee becomes a free agent after this season. The 31-year-old will make $9 million this year in the final season of his current contract.
Sabathia doesn't believe he'll need to do much recruiting to entice Lee to New York.
"He knows what it's like over here," Sabathia said. "I talk to him a bunch about being in the clubhouse and being a part of this team. So we'll see what happens."