Cliff Lee is on the market, but price is said to be enormous
The Phillies are talking to teams about Lee, though there's still skepticism about whether they will pull the trigger on a trade.
However, the price tag on the veteran left-hander is exteremely high, leading some to speculate that ulatimately the Phillies may keep him.
"He's telling people it'll take you three or four best prospects, plus you'd have to take all the money," one competing executive said of Phillies GM Ruben Amaro.
Another executive put it thusly, "You'd have to give up your first born, second and third born, too."
Amaro didn't respond to a text message.
While some have thought the Phillies never would consider selling its very biggest pieces, the recent slide may be weighing on them. They have a big TV deal coming and have been a team focused on winning now, but more drastic measures may need to be considered, and as one Phillies connected person said, "If there's a good deal to be made, Ruben will make it."
Lee has a stiff price attached to him, and also a stiff neck that caused him to miss his last start, though there's no indication that's more than a one-start issue.
One thing that shouldn't prevent a deal is Lee's 21-team no-trade list, as Lee has said his main objective is to win. He spoke in this space a couple months ago about that being his prioirty, and according to a friend, that hasn't changed.
The question is: Who'd be wiling to take on a contract that pays him $25 million a year through 2015, then has a vesting option for another year with a $12.5 million buyout, bringing the guarantee to almost exactly $70 million.
The Dodgers claimed Lee last year and are seemingly always on the lookout for big stars, but their rotation sitiation looks as good as anyone's at the moment. The Rangers love him but their need is hitting. Among other big-market teams, the Yankees need offense, the Red Sox seem to have gone away from the $20 million-plus player, the Angels are selling and the price tag seems steep for the Cardinals and especially the Braves.
Lee may wind up staying in Philly. But for now at least, he is spicing up the market.
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