Poll: Will Cliff Lee Be Claimed On Waivers?

Cliff Lee is on waivers, so MLB teams must now decide whether to place a claim on the left-hander. For the majority of teams, the decision will be simple. Lee earns far too much for most general managers to make a claim and risk taking on his contract ($21.5MM in 2012, $25MM per season through 2015, and a $27.5MM vesting option for 2016 with a $12.5MM buyout). It’s complex enough for GMs to boost payroll by a few million with a summer acquisition, so a player with $95MM on his contract will be out of the question in most cases. 

But Lee could tempt a team or two. He continues to pitch effectively — seven innings per start, five times as many strikeouts as walks and a 3.73 ERA in a so-called down year — and there’s no better staring pitcher available. Maybe $95MM for three-plus seasons would be acceptable for a team with aggressive ownership, such as the Dodgers. 

If Lee does get claimed, the Phillies could pull him back off of waivers, work out a trade, or assign his contract to the team that wins the claim (the left-hander can block trades to 21 teams). If he goes unclaimed, the Phillies will be able to trade Lee with the same restrictions they’d encounter in July or in the offseason. How will it all unfold?

64 Responses to Poll: Will Cliff Lee Be Claimed On Waivers? Leave a Reply

  1. Cotes56 3 years ago

    The Rangers, Yanks and Red Sox would make some sense but their ownerships have all indicated they don’t want to add another $20m+ player. Dodgers on the other hand by all indications were ready to offer Hamels a $160m+ deal this offseason, so they clearly have 1 the room to add a $20-25m player and 2 the need for a front end starter. I’m not sure if they’ll work anything out with the Phillies, but it sure would be odd if they don’t make a claim

  2. Jeff King 3 years ago

    It’s such a poisonous contract, especially with a guy who didn’t have 3 wins at the all-star break. I can’t see anyone making a claim. Yanks still think Pineda will be a top-line starter in the future. Rangers have too many guys coming up for free agency (will they keep Hamilton?) Sox have too many poison contracts (Crawford/Lackey).

    • Gothapotamus 3 years ago

      Take a look at his FIP and xFIP. He’s actually pitched pretty well.

      The lack of wins is a product of the last place team he plays for. He is 0-5 with a 3.72 ERA when they give him two runs or less of support. 7 starts, 48.1 IP, WHIP of 1.14.

      He’s had 6 quality starts where he received a no decision.

      In all fairness, he should probably have close to 10 wins.

    • Yeah, give me Tommy Hanson and his 12 wins and 4.29 ERA and 1.44 WHIP every day of the week! Wait, wins mostly mean nothing. Lee has 9 games with Quality starts that he didn’t get a win including 8 with 6 IP and 2 ER or less or 7 IP and 3 ER or less. Including 3 games he went 8 innings and gave up 1 run or less.

      • Gothapotamus 3 years ago

        And the game where he pitched 10 shutout innings and got a ND, only to have the Phillies lose. Stayed up for that one, argh.

    • Karkat 3 years ago

      Wins as an evaluative metric, ladies and gentlemen.

      • Gothapotamus 3 years ago

        He’s a new guy, I went easy on him. He’ll learn the ropes soon enough.

        • Karkat 3 years ago

          Fair enough. I guess I never even knew about fangraphs before using this site. But still. WINS.

    • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

      Aside from the 3 wins comment you are mostly correct. The teams that could afford to pay a pitcher $25 mil a year are either trying to lower payroll because of the lux tax or they have too many contracts that are bloated and not contributing.

      The one way I can see him being moved is if a team claims Lee and works out a deal where that team sends a player with a large contract but can fill a need that Philly possesses (like offense) and a prospect (not an elite one) to Philly. A team that might have an excellent chance of doing that would be the Sox.

      Crawford and Franklin Morales/Felix Doubront + a lesser prospect (not Bogaerts, barnes, Middlebrooks, Lavarnay or Bradley) for Cliff Lee. No money sent by Philly.

  3. johnsilver 3 years ago

    CC Sabathia money+ for 3 seasons (counting buyout on 2015) and contrary to what some of what Lee’s supporter’s think? Not CC Sabathia, much less do you give a prospect with a chance to boot as well to acquire for 27-28. teams.

    LAD may be one team willing to assume salary only and give back a “body”. Pick for an odd team that would take a swipe at him? Baltimore.. LONG time since in playoffs, Duquette has taken these gambles (Ramirez deal) but would have to convince Angelos, who has been gunshy ever since the Albert bell deal 10+ years ago.

    • what about Cliff Lee doesn’t put him on the same level as CC?
      2009-2012 combined stats
      CC 830 IP, 19.3 WAR, 3.24 ERA 1.20 WHIP 8.10 K/9
      Lee 801 IP 20.3 WAR 3.05 ERA 1.11 WHIP 8.13 K/9

      • Gothapotamus 3 years ago

        Get ready for obligatory AL East is toughest division comment.

        • al east is the toughest division

        • Fair point, but 2009-2011 vs AL East (espn gives cum. totals for 09-11)

          CC 313 IP 3.50 ERA 1.21 WHIP 7.92 K/9
          Lee 127 IP 3.67 ERA 1.11 WHIP 6.64 K/9

          CC is better, yes, but Lee also fared pretty well. Removing Lee’s games against NYY don’t change much. 3.90 ERA 1.06 WHIP 6.53 K/9

        • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

          Well…it is. Not even sure how anyone CAN’T admit that for the past decade, the AL East HAS been the most difficult league and NY probably one of the toughest places/parks to pitch (see Ian Kennedy, AJ Burnett, etc).

          However, while ERA is a bad way to compare pitchers, all the league adjusted adv metrics (ERA-, FIP-, XFIP-) show that Lee still edges out CC as a better pitcher although it’s not like they aren’t both top 10-15 pitchers in baseball.

          • Gothapotamus 3 years ago

            I do agree with you that the AL East has been the toughest.

            But thank you for mentioning the advanced metrics. I was waiting for somebody to try and justify CC as the better pitcher based on the sole factor of the division he plays in.

        • Karkat 3 years ago

          It’s hard to shy off those comments when three of the top five teams in runs/game are from the AL East (although, granted, Sabathia doesn’t have to pitch against the Yankees)

        • johnsilver 3 years ago

          Why not? MLB is filled up with poster childs to prove the point from a pitchers point of view, especially over the last 15 years.

          Only hard core in denial NL fans continue to think otherwise who like to forget that no pitchers, even Zambrano can hit as good as the worst DH as just one point.

      • for one thing CC pitches in a tougher league with a DH and he pitches in what has been the toughest division in baseball for years.

  4. Chris Johnston 3 years ago

    will 21 teams potentially off the board I dont see him going anywhere, but yes he will be claimed. if for no other reason than to stop him from going to another team in some division rivalry.

    • Bigj48 3 years ago

      dbacks are on his no trade list, but i assume they will claim him, to block him from going to dodgers. so then the phillies will have the decision to try and talk lee into going to az in a trade, or they will just let the dbacks pick him up.

      • Karkat 3 years ago

        I’m pretty sure Lee wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to go to AZ under any circumstances, so it would be a pretty safe claim.

  5. Clay 3 years ago

    Idk….thats alot of monet to take on!!!

  6. Gilbert Lee 3 years ago

    I sure hope that the Phillies get to sleep in the bed that they made. I am hoping that they get stuck with soon-to-be 3 aging starters. You think the Phillies are bad this year, wait for the next couple of years Phillies fans. It is going to be a long and cellar-dwelling stretch. These “big market” teams need to learn that they can not just offer up these ridiculous contracts to free agents and not live with the consiquenses. It’s time that the “small market” teams turn a blind eye to the Red Sox, Yankees, and the Angels of the world when they need to unload a bad contract of an old and used-up player.

    • Gothapotamus 3 years ago

      When you say unload, you mean the big market team eating a good deal of salary.

    • nm344 3 years ago

      Remember the Yankees in 07? Yeah they were old and washed up too. Look what they did next season.

    • varis 3 years ago

      lol what is this Dark Knight Rises. nice speech Catwoman

    • Cliff Lee is not aging badly. His problems this year have been location and perhaps a lack of focus due to the horrible season the Phils are having. Personally I hope the Phils keep him and he wins a WS or 2 in Philadelphia but if I were a contending team who had the financial ability to sign Lee, I would. When he is on his game Cliff Lee is a top 5 pitcher in baeball.
      If Cliff lee were a free agent this year could he command a 3 yr/ $75 M contract with a $12.5 M buyout? Have you taken a good look at the FA market this coming year? Who are you going to spend good money on in the pitching department? After Greinke there are no real difference makers, plus you get the bonus of having Lee for the 2012 stretch run. A team like SF(Lincecum likes like toast) LAD,TEX should seriously consider it.

      • nm344 3 years ago

        And be willing to give up a top prospect. It would be a PR nightmare for the Phillies to just let him go for nothing.

      • Gilbert Lee 3 years ago

        Am I correct to assume your a Phillies fan? Rose colored glasses my friend.

      • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

        To answer your question, no. I don’t see any team that would give Lee a guaranteed 3/$87 mil or possible 4/$102 mil if he were a FA right now based off of the season he just had. Now if he was coming off of a season like he had last year when every metric was under 3 (ERA, FIP, xFIP, etc) and the major market teams didn’t have lux tax issues then I would say a big YES because teams would rather pay more annual $$$ if it meant less years, especially for a pitcher who is already 32 or 33 yo.

        Think about it…3/$87 mil or 4/$102 mil averages out to just under $26 mil per. Is he worth being the top paid pitcher in the game right at this moment?

    • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

      Ummmm…please name me one instance when a big market team unloaded their “bad contract” on a small market team AND not basically paid for that player to be taken off of their hands? It’s absurd to claim that at all. IF the smaller market team acquires a player with a bad contract I can almost guarantee you that the smaller market team is almost getting the player for free.

      Now as for the Phillies, they paid the cost of trying to win now. But in their defense, if Utley and Howard hadn’t been injured and were performing like they were in 2009/2010 then we wouldn’t be having this conversation yet because they probably wouldn’t have the same offensive issues as they do now. BUT I did feel that the Lee and Howard contracts were going to end bad just because of the way the contracts were back loaded.

      I think big market teams that are trying to win multiple titles pay the cost of trying to acquire and retain their stars. I just can’t be mad at that.

      • melonis_rex 3 years ago

        Alex Rios? White Sox aren’t a small market team, but Jays aren’t really either.

        • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

          That’s different. That was a waiver claim. I assumed that he was referring to salary dumped via trade.

        • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

          I replied back to you but don’t see it now.

          Rios is different. That was a wire waiver. You put him out there and if they want him they want him. Regardless, any team that acquires any player is doing so because they WANT that player. The bigger market teams aren’t placing a burden on anyone.

      • Gilbert Lee 3 years ago

        How I put it is only part of the assinine ways of the big markets. You are right that sometime the big market will eat the contract of the player just to unload him/her (cliff lee’s case). That still doesn’t take away from the fact that the big markets should have to live with the mistakes they make not just sweep them under the rug when the product has used up it value. It just hurts the game that we love so very much. I am all for an athlete getting paid but what I am against is the lack of accounability for these teams that continue to hurt the game by not even giving a chance for the smaller markets to be involved in the free agent process. Don;t give me the luxury tax argument either. When was the last time the Twins, Brewer or Royals even sniffed 176 million dollar payroll? Set the luxury tax at $100 million, then you will see the real game of baseball take form. Why do you think football is so popular, it is because of the salary cap which causes everyone to be really good or atleast competitive.

        • Gothapotamus 3 years ago

          Union would never allow a luxury tax cap of $100m. Even though small market teams sometimes aren’t as competitive, their owners reap the benefits of revenue sharing – so they don’t really care.

        • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

          Amen, brother. My only friendly amendment is that a salary cap and revenue sharing are unrelated issues. Not doing the former does not prevent MLB from doing more of the latter.

        • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

          How is a team NOT being accountable when they say to other teams “We don’t want this guy, we will eat the vast majority of his salary and accept a marginal player in return if you’re interested”?

          a) NO team is forced to take said player. This is not the case of an uninsured patient who needs to have medical treatment because of a self-induced condition and ends up having costly medical treatment paid for by taxpayers. Stop acting as if someone is rescuing them or that they are a burden on others. The Astros didn’t want Carlos Lee and they are paying 100% of his salary and the Marlins basically got him for free. The Yanks didn’t want AJ Burnett and they are paying him $11.5 mil this year to be the Pirates ace and perhaps get them into the playoffs for the 1st time in decades. You’re acting as if there’s a victim here.

          b) PLEASE stop comparing the NFL and their salary caps to anything pertaining to baseball. There are TOO many MAJOR and significant differences between the business models of either sport to even think of having an intelligent conversation comparing the two. One obvious difference is that most of the $$ involved in a NFL contract isn’t guaranteed. Imagine how much better off the Phillies would be if they could just cut Ryan Howard when he was injured and unproductive. I’m not even sure how intelligent people involved in sports can even dare to say something like “Baseball should have a salary cap…look how good it works for the NFL. That’s why NFL is a more competitive sport”. it’s just silly.

      • Vernon Wells. The Angels took on his contract AND gave up Mike Napoli.

  7. only if someone is crazy enough to eat his fat contract, which i highly doubt will happen

    • Sandy Karoll 3 years ago

      Totally disagree. 2 examples

      1) Dodgers – need starters and can now afford to up salary structure to at least Phillies level, and approach Boston/Yankee levels

      2) White Sox – Peavy contract expired after this season, option for 2012, 22 million. Would rather have Lee at his salary than Peavy, and increase not that dramatic.

      Lee will be claimed, no doubt in my mind about it. The question is what does Philly do? I believe they do not let him go for straight claim. Makes no sense. If that is what they do, then why not trade for whatever they could get at deadline?

      • KEK 3 years ago

        Peavy has stated he wants to stay in Chicago, is far more likely too work something out when compared to Lee. Not saying its impossible for the Sox to claim Lee, Reinsdorf might just like the team enough to bite the bullet and really go for it and work out a deal.

    • Karkat 3 years ago

      Quite the contrary, I’d be surprised if Arizona doesn’t claim him to keep the Dodgers from doing it. No way Lee wants to go there, so it’d be a safe maneuver.

    • KEK 3 years ago

      Kinda a random Sharpie avatar you got there

  8. Kevin Greenfield 3 years ago

    Anyone know around what time he’s supposed to clear if he goes unclaimed?

  9. AP 3 years ago

    This question is pretty simple.
    How much would Cliff Lee get on the open market today? (Answer: Probably about as much as he’s making now.)
    Is the amount he would get greater than the amount he’s getting? If yes, someone’s putting in a claim.

    • Dylan 3 years ago

      Your prob right but the AAV would be much lower. Maybe 5/100…not 4/95. AAV is the ruler of all for GMs.

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

        AAV isn’t going to mean squat when someone is still going to have to choke down nearly 30m factual dollars average over 3 seasons.. just think about that figure for a moment… 30m average for 3 seasons.. Who cares of the “average” is only 20m over 5 seasons, some team would be obligated to pay Lee 30m over **3** seasons IF they just deny his 2015 option. The thought of paying ANYONE in the game that much, let alone lee is absurd.

        • Dylan 3 years ago

          A 30 million dollar hit is much worse than a 20 million dollar hit. Especially for Phils Yanks and BoSox.

  10. This conversation is ridiculous. How many people discussed in trades in July go on waivers in August? How many players get put on waivers in August? Pretty much all right? Unless he gets claimed and given outright to the claiming team, or is traded, this shouldn’t even be a conversation.

  11. Jim Briggs III 3 years ago

    I would like to see the Blue Jays claim him and not pass this up. I don’t know how high or low on the ladder they are, but they can definitely block anyone in the AL East from getting him, which is important enough.

  12. drabidea 3 years ago

    Just throwing out a hypothetical that I just thought about. Red Sox need pitching, Phillies need an OF now. What about Cliff Lee for Carl Crawford and Brandon Workman? Money works out pretty even, helps out both teams, and the value is pretty similar.

  13. Chuck Porter 3 years ago

    He has the power to veto a trade to 21 teams so there are 21 teams that can make a claim with very little risk that anything actually becomes of it. Teams like the Pirates, Orioles and A’s are almost surely on his no-trade list so I would expect at least one of them to make a claim to block the potential of a deal happening between the Yankees or the Dodgers. They claim him, he declines the move and the world goes on as is.

    • Me 3 years ago

      He can block trades. I think of a team claims him, though, he can’t block that.

  14. What about Miami? They were willing to throw A LOT of money around in the off season. This would add serious strength to their starting pitching if they get him. If not, they’ve assured that Philly has to keep him and potentially financially hindered a division rival.

  15. Douglas Bath 3 years ago

    only 7 million per win. a bargain.

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