Mariners' GM Jack Zduriencik has maintained that he is not yet willing to throw in the towel and trade ace lefty Cliff Lee, but Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com heard from two executives that Seattle is willing to deal him "immediately for the right offer." One of those executives predicted that he could be moved in the next seven to ten days, similar to the timetable the Indians used when dealing CC Sabathia two years ago.
By moving Lee now as opposed to waiting until the deadline, the Mariners could maximize their return since the acquiring team will be getting an extra month of the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner. They'll also save a larger percentage of the approximately $4.94MM owed to Lee the remainder of the season, and of course reduce the risk of a trade value crippling injury.
Rosenthal's sources say that the Mets, Dodgers, and Rangers have all inquired about Lee, but many project the Twins as the front runner. The Mariners have scouted the Yankees' farm system, but the Yanks' scouting of Lee is just the team's routine coverage of a pitcher on their free agent wish list. They are happy with their five-man rotation at the moment.
Seattle is currently 14 games back in the AL West while Cleveland was 13.5 back when they dealt Sabathia. They received a four prospect package highlighted by Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, and the Mariners can reasonably expect a similar return for Lee. The 31-year-old lefty has made 11 starts this year after missing time with an oblique injury, and has pitched to a 2.39 ERA in 86.2 innings. He's struck out 76 and walked just four.