Survey suggests chances for a Cliff Lee claim by deadline slim but possible
Rival executives speculate that the one team that could afford to put in a claim on Cliff Lee, who has $96 million to go on his contract through 2015, is the Dodgers.
All but one of a half-dozen baseball executives surveyed Thursday and Friday suggested they believe the chances are slim that Cliff Lee is claimed by the Friday afternoon deadline -- though once A.L. exec, knowing how desperate teams are for a star starting pitcher, said, "I think (someone) might'' claim him.
If he should be claimed -- and yet another A.L. exec estimated the chances at 25 percent -- the next question would be whether the Phillies would consider letting Lee and the $95 million or so that remains on his contract through 2015 go for no compensation.
"I think they should (let him go),'' said another A.L. exec. "But I think that might be a tough sell in that market, so I don't know.''
Several of the executives speculated that if anyone does claim Lee -- who is 2-6 with a 3.73 ERA -- it could be the Dodgers. The Dodgers were looking for one more pitcher at the deadline (they came up short on Ryan Dempster), and everyone knows they aren't poor.
"They're the only team that could,'' a third A.L. exec said.
The new Dodgers owners approved taking the full of $38 million left on Hanley Ramirez's contract and the signing of the rarely-scouted Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig for $42 million. But this is a much bigger risk.
Lee is to make $25 million a year from 2013 to 2015 and has a buyout of a whopping $12.5 million on the club's 2016 option.
Lee was put on waivers Wednesday, so his period expires today. If he is claimed, the Phillies can decide to let him (and his contract) go or try to negotiate a trade. they also could pull him back and keep him even if he is claimed.
Lee has some control, too, as he has a 21-team no-trade list. So he could veto a trade or claim by any of those 21 teams.