"At first I didn't believe it," Lee said. "I thought we were working out an extension with the Phillies. I thought I would spend the rest of my career there."
Lee said the Phillies made him a contract offer, which came about two weeks ago. He said the club made a counteroffer the day he learned he was being traded.
"We made what we thought was a pretty substantial offer," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Thursday night. "We had some preliminary discussions, but other than that ... it was amicable. Like I said before, I just didn't feel comfortable that we were going to be able to get to the finish line. And so we ended up moving toward the Halladay situation."
Amaro would not discuss specifics of Lee's offer. But Halladay signed a three-year, $60 million extension, so it is safe to assume Lee's offer was not more than that. It also was likely to be a three-year offer.
"As I have always said, I get very uncomfortable with length [of contracts] on pitchers," Amaro said. "Frankly, I wouldn't want to go any more than four years. Three years has been kind of our standard on pitching, and I'd like to stay with that standard. That said, when you're talking about a guy like Halladay who has the kind of track record that he has, sometimes special circumstances lead themselves to a different way of thinking. And that's why we were comfortable guaranteeing four, including this year."
Lee said he enjoyed his time in Philadelphia. He had hoped to help the Phillies reach a third consecutive World Series.
"It was an unbelievable experience," he said.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.