Poll: Should The Phillies Let Cliff Lee Go?

Last night, the Dodgers were awarded claiming rights on Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee after the nine other National League clubs with worse records declined.  By claiming Lee, the Dodgers opened themselves up to the possibility of either trading for the left-hander or being assigned his contract which would saddle them with roughly $95MM in future commitments.  The struggling Phillies could help kickstart their rebuilding effort and slim down their bloated payroll by letting Lee go out west, but as it stands it doesn't seem like Ruben Amaro Jr. wants to consider it.  "It's irrelevant. [Lee] is not going anywhere," said the GM.

It's not hard to understand why the Phillies would be reluctant to let Lee go.  The soon-to-be 34-year-old has been a bright spot for the club this year, posting a 3.73 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 18 starts.  While his performance may not put him near the top in Cy Young voting this year as it did in 2011, there's no denying that Lee is still going strong and could help anchor the Phillies' rotation in 2013 and beyond.

However, Lee's contract calls for him to make $21.5MM in 2012 and $25MM per season through 2015.  The committment could also extend through 2016 as he has a $27.5MM vesting option with a $12.5MM buyout.  The Phillies stretched their payroll to retain Cole Hamels to a six-year (or, potentially seven-year) extension and wiping Lee's salary from the books would help restore some flexibility.


84 Responses to Poll: Should The Phillies Let Cliff Lee Go? Leave a Reply

  1. Cannonball9 3 years ago

    Anyone have a guess for what what the deal would look like if they agree to money and/or players? I’m too biased to come up with one.

    • Robb Logan 3 years ago

      I would say it is a moot point since Amaro still thinks they can win this season and won’t dump Lee. I was one saying lay off of Amaro and Manuel for most of the season but now Amaro is making some weird moves. Selling Pence and Victorino but not moving Lee is a huge mistake. They have to get some type of payroll flexibility as well as some prospects now and look to 2013 and beyond or next season might be a repeat of this year.

      • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

        Do you mean Amaro thinks they can win in 2013? Because clearly he’s thrown in the towel for 2012.

    • TheLoLgen 3 years ago

      Zach Lee would be the starting point. I imagine that if the Phillies were trying to trade him, that would be the first name they say.

      • And if that name did come up Phils would have to start discussing paying a bit of Cliff’s salary.

        • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

          A lot of it actually. No team is going to assume that Lee will be worth $27.5m in 2016. Agreeing to a balloon payment like that won’t come with a first-round draft pick as a bonus.

      • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

        No way a team will pay Lee his contract and surrender a top prospect too.

  2. ThinkBlue10 3 years ago

    Please let him go!

  3. Down_Goes_Brown 3 years ago

    Free up money for who? Short of a kings ransom they should keep him. He will stay in philly.

  4. Jeffrey 3 years ago

    While it may be trendy to think the Phillies are cooked, I don’t understand why you’d want to let Lee go. He should be effective and worth his contract for at least 2 more years past this one. Realistically, the Phillies have one more year left with this core group at their current level of effectiveness, so they’d be best suited keeping this team together for another year. They have a few big holes to fill this off season, but can come back with a slight retooling for next year and be playoff contenders.

    After next year, then it gets ugly fast. Halladay, Rollins, Howard will all be well past their prime and signed to massive contracts. At this point next year, if they’re not in it, then you need to consider a massive fire sale.

    • nm344 3 years ago

      At least get your info right. Halladay is a free agent after next year. Rollins will have one more guaranteed year and he’s still effective.

      • $17867741 3 years ago

        Halladay does have a vesting option for 2014 on the condition that he pitches 225 innings in 2013 (approx. 7 innings per start for 32 starts). IF Halladay’s option does vest, the Phillies could always leverage his value in a trade.

        Rollins’ guarantee contract is guaranteed till 2014 with an option for 2015 so there is some ways to go. I’m not super excited to see the decline of Rollins’ defense.

        • Jim C 3 years ago

          Halladay’s option will not vest since he was hurt this year. I do not know exactly why but it has been said multiple times.

          • Jeffrey 3 years ago

            There’s still a big chance that he reaches the 415 IP needed in 2012+2013, so I wouldn’t rule it out. However, it is less than a lock, which is something I initially overlooked.

          • Dylan 3 years ago

            0% chance. If they don’t shut him down, he’ll get about 9 more starts. At an average of 6 per, he end up with about 145. He’s not gonna throw 265 inning next year at the age if 36.

          • Dylan 3 years ago

            He’s not 2002 Roy anymore.

          • Jeffrey 3 years ago

            There’s a chance he can finish this year with 165 IP, and then come back next year with 250. It’s not likely, I agree. The DL stint this year likely cost him the option. As @TBJFAN said above, if he throws 250 IP in 2013, he’s an easy trade candidate in the rebuilding case for the Phils, so this isn’t that bad at all.

          • Dylan 3 years ago

            You just said a big chance, now saying unlikely….it’s a zero percent chance. Phillies are not going to risk injury this year. He won’t have any 115 pitch games.

          • Jeffrey 3 years ago

            Yes, I changed my mind. It is unlikely. I hadn’t realized that he only had 89 IP this year; I had forgotten about the DL stint.

          • Dylan 3 years ago

            Yeah and there is a chance he gets shut down in September.

        • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

          He needs to also throw 415 innings between 2013/2014… not happening.

          • BitLocker 3 years ago

            207.5 per year. It’s possible.

          • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

            He’s thrown 96.1 innings this year. Let’s say he throws 220 innings next year… He needs to throw 98.2 innings now – the end of the year.

          • $17867741 3 years ago

            Sorry. I read wrong. I thought it was an ‘or’ condition.

            He needs 225 innings in 2013 AND 415 between 2012/2013 AND needs to be healthy at the end of the 2013 season.

      • Jeffrey 3 years ago

        Rollins, unfortunately, is on the downside of his career. He has had a below peak year for him, but yes still effective. I don’t think he’s going to revert to his prime performance in the next 3 years. That was my point.

        Halladay has a vesting option, which may or may not go for 2014. I expect the Phillies to manage around this if they need to. I’d say less than 50% that he triggers it. He’d need to get a bunch of innings for the rest of this year, and stay off the of DL next year.

    • Braves2014Champs 3 years ago

      howards already past his prime and rollins was not a smart resign. problem is u cant trade halladay or howard right now because they have both been injured and are having down years. halladay should bounce back next year but dont expect much from howard so the phils are pretty muched SOL on that one

      • nm344 3 years ago

        Rollins is going to have 4WAR and costs 11 million dollars? He was a GREAT resign.

        • $17867741 3 years ago

          Within that 4 WAR, I’m pretty sure it comes all from defense…

          His wRC+ is slightly above the median for SS.

          A defensive specialist could serve in a similar capacity but will come much cheaper.

          • The Rollins deal was actually very good, but for some reason uneducated fans (mainly Phillies fans) perpetually complain about the contract. If Charlie Manuel would just place Jimmy in the 6th or 7th hole, fans would have a lot less to complain about.

          • Dylan 3 years ago

            Never understood the criticism of the contract. I liked the deal. Very reasonable, maybe a year too long but that is what you have to do now adays.

          • Jeffrey 3 years ago

            I am not a Phillies fan, and I criticized the deal. He’s not put up $11M of value this year (yet – still has a chance), and will likely not put up $11M next year either. It’s very hard to imagine him being an above average shortstop for 2014 and 2015 (option year – easy to hit if healthy). It’s not a *terrible* deal – but I would like to hear some reasoning to call it a “very good” deal.

            It appears part of the Phillies strategy, however, to win now and have a very veteran team in 2014.

          • According to Fangraphs, Rollins has been worth $13M.

          • Jeffrey 3 years ago

            Very true. My love hate relationship with WAR continues. FanGraphs has him listed as 4.1 through 2012 (projected) whereas Baseball Reference has him only at 1.3 without anyon future projections. I quickly looked at the 1.3 number to figure he was less than $11M. I wish there were more consistency with this number. I’ll trust FanGraphs, but does anyone know which is more accurate?

          • I am not exactly sure which one is more accurate. Personally I always look to fan-graphs though, as it seems that most baseball writers typically use it to back up their pieces.

          • $17867741 3 years ago

            Then that would make for an expensive guy that’s hitting 6th/7th in the lineup.

            I would have stuck to a 2 year deal with 2 options, but that’s just my opinion.

        • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

          Rollins is at best a “meh” resign. As others have mentioned, he’s going to get a 4 WAR mostly because of his glove. However, you down pay $11 mil a year for a glove. And while he may have that 4 WAR this year he still is signed to 2/$22 and he’s not getting any younger and he’s probably not going to get much better.

          PS-Please spare me the “well look at Jeter and Arod contracts” because I didn’t sign them, ok?

          • nm344 3 years ago

            1. WAR is WAR. He’s excellent on defense, its part of his value.
            2. You can see the defensive component of his WAR. Its about .5 WAR, the rest is baserunning and offense. He’s the third best shortstop in the majors according to fWAR this season.

  5. Down_Goes_Brown 3 years ago

    by the way,like 90% of players end up on waivers. This is only a story because of the name and the fact that there is nothing else to talk about.

    • Cannonball9 3 years ago

      This year is different with the Wildcard change. With a ton of cash to back them up, I think the Dodgers are hacking the system a bit and make waiver wire plays like no one ever has. What would you do with tens of millions to spend? LA’s record positions them very nicely for this right now, and they have a good sense of what teams are asking as they supposedly talked to most every team before the 7/31 deadline.

      • $17867741 3 years ago

        Even with all that capital at their disposal, I wouldn’t tie up $75m+ for Cliff Lee just because I can… Besides, I highly HIGHLY doubt the Phillies would let go of Cliff Lee for free, even if the Dodgers were 100% responsible for the contract. RAJ would be instantly fired.

        However, I do think the Phillies should trade him in the off-season. Hammels, Halladay, Worley should shape up to be a great #1, 2, 3, and they can grab a decent 4th starter and prospects in a Cliff Lee trade. Some money would be necessary to facilitate the trade.

        • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

          If you could afford it, absorbing the entire contract would be a great move for a team like the Dodgers. He’s going to bounce back next year (even though he’s been solid all year besides June).

          • kimofromkauai 3 years ago

            Think Alex Rios a couple of years ago with the Jays/White Sox. No way Lee will earn his salary going forward 4 years. There are some similarities with Williams and Colletti as far as overvaluing veteran players.

          • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

            I don’t know if he’ll be a 25 million dollar player after year 3 (he won’t) but he’s a very similar pitcher to Andy Pettitte so there’s reason to think he’s going to be effective for a long time. If you get two years of Ace like production out of him, I’d consider it a worthwhile investment.

          • $17867741 3 years ago

            It might drive up the price for Kershaw. I could imagine Kershaw’s agent saying, “you are willing to pay Cliff Lee $25m a year. Kerhsaw is better than Lee, and thus should at least be worth $25m as well.”

            Obviously that’s a few years away, but it really could come back and bite them in their butt.

            For that reason, if I were the Dodger’s GM, I would only acquire Cliff though a trade so I can grab some money in the deal.

        • BrocNessMonster 3 years ago

          Enough of this saying. GM’s never get ‘instantly fired.’

          • $17867741 3 years ago

            That’s fair. But if it did happen, it could really guarantee him to be fired in the off-season.

          • TheRealRyan 3 years ago

            No, Amaro should have been instantly fired for signing a 32 year old pitcher to 5/120 or 6/135
            contract. He is still owed at least 87.5 million for his age 34-36
            seasons and should be happy to get rid of it for anything now. I like
            Lee a lot and think he is a great pitcher, but that is a lot of money
            and years for a guy heading into the twilight of his career.

    • NorthOf49 3 years ago

      And yet, not all soon-to-be-34-year-olds with nearly $100M in salary commitments remaining are claimed when they are part of that 90% that are put on waivers.

      It’s a story that Lee was claimed, and that’s what people are reacting to.

  6. Brock 3 years ago

    On the surface, I’d say Amaro’s either stubborn or patently insane. It’s not every day that a team gets a “do over” for an albatross contract. That said, I’d have to know more about Philly’s organizational pitching talent to truly make a educated assessment here. If they don’t have any elite arms in the upper tier of their system, I can sort of see why Amaro’s balking.

  7. NatFan05 3 years ago

    Yes. The sooner he’s out of the division the better.

  8. roberty 3 years ago

    The Phillies would never trade Cliff Lee! Except for that one time.
    How many players have been traded twice by the same team?
    Have any MVP/Cy Young winners been traded twice by the same team?

  9. maybe dump him next year if he’s underperforming? idk. they should try to get some sort of prospect for him. He more than likely has a couple of years left in the tank from what i can see.

  10. $24144853 3 years ago

    The Dodgers should trade Joe Blanton for Cliff Lee. LOL.

  11. I think it’s kind of a rude thing to pull on Cliff. He took the discount to play for Philly and then they want to get rid of him.. For the 2nd time. Come back to Seattle Cliff. We loved you. Our offense was horrid but it isn’t AS bad as it was in 2010.

    • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

      Wouldn’t call an average of $23 mil per a discount. In terms of total dollars…yes….average annual. … no.

  12. Dylan 3 years ago

    I guess over 2,000 Dodgers fans voted.

  13. moondog45 3 years ago

    Dodger fans you get Victorino and Blanton and we keep Lee. Any more Rule 5 guys like Shane in 2005 we’ll take. Also any nontendered guys like Werth in 2006 we’ll take also.

    • You Know Who 3 years ago

      We would end up trading them for some over the hill former allstar that will give us half a decent season while that prospect turns into the next werth or victorino. Amaro doesn’t like young players anymore remember.

  14. I_Am_Roy_Halladay 3 years ago

    Wouldn’t they be much better off waiting until the offseason to see what other teams are willing to give up for him? Right now they have no leverage considering the Dodgers are the only team he can be dealt to, but at least in the offseason they can try to get something back for an elite pitcher rather than just handing him over. I personally love watching Lee pitch and hope he doesn’t go anywhere, theres no real big time FAs i’d rather spend my money on this offseason

    • Mike C. 3 years ago

      It will cost the Phillies $6 million to keep him in 2012 and they will need to include $20 million in a trade to get anything worthwhile via a trade. So, no it makes no sense to retain Lee.

      Phillies should thank the good Lord that the Dodgers claimed him and took them off the hook. They have the younger Hamels signed to a good contract and really shoud not be paying $70 million a year for three starting pitchers. Especially considering they have aging Utley and Howard and nothing else offensively.

      • bobbybaseball 3 years ago

        It will cost the Phillies $6 million to keep him in 2012
        I don’t understand this statement Michael.

    • Guest 3 years ago

      The only problem I see with trading him in the offseason is it gives lee more leverage, too, assuming he can reset his no trade list once FA starts.

      Knowing he could be dealt, he could make his no trade list less favorable (removing Texas and NYY from the 8 allowable teams, adding teams like the padres or Astros instead).

      It’s hard to guess Lee’s intentions. I know he loves playing in Philly, but his window of opportunity is closing to win, so he could be receptive to a trade to any contender – who knows. There is also the human side to it as his son had leukemia and a factor for him choosing Philly was having Children’s Hospital in Philly, which has renown facilities, incase his son would have an unfortunate relapse. His tradable teams list could be built around cities with good care if the need arises.

  15. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Topic should have been titled “reality vs fantasy land fans” and let you guess which is which.. it ain’t hard to figure it out..At all..

    No offense at all intended to you there Zach :-)

    • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

      This is true, though I still wonder what tactical reasons the Phillies had for placing Lee on waivers if they had no intention of letting him go to any team. Is it to gage trade interest come the offseason? If so, what did they learn that they didn’t know before? Puzzlement.

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

        I don’t see how it increases over the off season BlueSky.. 88m over 3 seasons is still right at 90m and still not going to get any teams decent prospects back. if they cannot get a top prospect from a team (say LAD here) fighting for the Divisional crown, how could they at say the winter meetings?

        Amaro had best be thinking of paying 30-40m of that salary before he has any thoughts at all of getting anything back if he is going to move Cliff lee and right now, with LA fighting SF for the crown? he’s got his chance is my opinion.

        • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

          Well yes, so the question is still: why bother? I’m going to assume it wasn’t a whim. Possibly he was hoping for a different team to make the waiver claim. In the AL perhaps?

          • johnsilver 3 years ago

            Honestly? I don’t think anyone in the AL would have claimed him. Tagged with 20m AAV. Sure, NY, Anaheim and Boston, plus Texas all could have afforded him for sure.

            NY doesn’t really need him and is on his no trade list anyway it is assumed, not to mention is targeting attempting to get under the 189m payroll limitation that he would have busted.

            Boston is really close to getting out of it in even the fans who are in denial mode and he would have busted their salary structure, plus forced them moving multiple players who are more important.

            Texas.. Interesting Thought, but don’t think they needed him to prove they are the best team in the AL.

            Anaheim. they just picked up greinke to give them a stud rotation. Why tack on 20m AAV for lee?

        • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

          Another thought. Perhaps Amaro was hoping that the Dodgers would pass on Lee once they’d gotten Blanton. He might have been aiming for a pot of prospects held by a team further down the waiver list.

      • thegrayrace 3 years ago

        I suppose they learned that every NL team with a worse record than the Dodgers didn’t feel Cliff Lee was worth his contract…

      • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

        Every team puts players on waivers as a standard practice even if they have no intention on letting them go or trading them. In this case though, even if they pull him back and he isn’t traded it could possible give them indication on whom they might be able to discuss a trade with during the off season.

  16. KB 3 years ago

    they shouldn’t let him go for free. they should let him go if they can get a good package. he is still a good-great pitcher on most nights.

  17. Harris K. 3 years ago

    The Phillies are not going to make the playoffs in 2012, so the question becomes is Lee worth $25M+ a year following this season. The answer is simple, no. He would not get more than $20M a year on the open market, so there are more efficient ways to spend that $25M per year.

    • captainjeter 3 years ago

      big yes. But, Amaro can leave out the Yanks. Lee had his chance to be a Yankee. Let the Dodgers have that contract.

  18. If the Phillies have no intention of trading Lee, why did they place him on waivers?

    • Gothapotamus 3 years ago

      Let’s assume he would have cleared waivers and could have been traded to any team (or in lee’s case, 8 without approval). August 29th rolls around and a team like the Yankees or Rangers sustain a loss to a #1 or #2 starter, and they’re desperate for a big arm so their chances in he playoffs don’t tank. Teams like that may be willing to pony up and pay all of Lee’s remaining contract and give top prospects in that scenario.

      It’s just like if the Mariners got an offer from Texas for Felix which included Profar, Olt/Perez and two other decent prospects – they’d probably consider a trade. While that was highly unlikely to happen, and didn’t, I think the same can be said for lee.

  19. dc21892 3 years ago

    If I’m the Dodgers, I would love to be “saddled” with Lee and that 95M. He is not having a bad year and for the rest of the contract you can assume he will pitch ace like as he has since his amazing season in Cleveland.

  20. Bob Hulsey 3 years ago

    Yes, the Phillies should go the direction of the Astros and trade everything away not nailed down and keep a payroll of around $10 million. The parent club will suck but everybody will praise Amaro for having a great farm system that will blossom in 3-4 years.

    • moondog45 3 years ago

      You nailed it! Glad I’m not the only person who sees it that way.Too many Dodger fans on this site.

  21. hawkny1 3 years ago

    Follow the Red Sox lead, with the LA Dodgers…..
    You want Cliff? Okay, but you have to take Doc too, along with the entire amount remaining on their contracts. In return, we want SS- Dee Gordon and prospect RP-Zack Lee.

  22. Ian Masterson 3 years ago

    my sentiments exactly.

  23. LazerTown 3 years ago

    The Phillies will be in a jam if they dont. They have the opportunity to get rid of a big contract that is really backloaded.

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