Phillies Notes: Lee, Young, Utley

Here's the latest from the four-time defending National League East champs…

  • In an interview today on Philadelphia's WIP Radio, Cliff Lee said that his top priority as a free agent was to join the team with the best chance of winning.  After the Phillies, his next choices were the Rangers and the Yankees, in that order.  New York was the third choice since, Lee says, "I felt like with what the Red Sox had done and it seems like some of the Yankee guys are getting older, but I liked the Rangers.”
  • It seems unlikely that the Phillies could manage to take on Michael Young's salary, but Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News outlines how the Phils could conceivably acquire the Rangers' infielder.  Hagen surmises the club can partially pay for Young if they receive some insurance money back from a lengthy Chase Utley injury, and if the Phillies can move Joe Blanton (owed $17MM over the next two seasons) to the Rangers in the trade.
  • Both Hagen and's Todd Zolecki point out that the Phillies want to avoid having their payroll reach the $178MM threshold that would cost them a luxury tax payment.  The Philadelphia payroll currently projects to be in the $165MM-$168MM range.  GM Ruben Amaro tells Zolecki that the team believes Utley "will be healthy enough sooner rather than later," but if the team does look outside the organization for help, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently looked at some potential second base candidates.